Harvey, a pooka rabbit measuring up to precisely 6 foot 1 and a half inches tall, hopped onto the stage of the Doré Theatre for the opening night of the play “Harvey” on March 21, only nobody can see him.
The leading character, Elwood P. Dowd, played by junior theatre major, Eric Pichardo, introduced the audience as well as everyone he encounters in the play to Harvey, his best friend whom only Elwood can see. Elwood is a charming fellow who never stops smiling. He shows genuine kindness to everyone in the play. He emphasizes to others the importance of being pleasant.
When talking to Pichardo about his role in the show, he said of his ever-present smile, “I started thinking of everyone as children.”
After the performance, Pichardo discussed, with a smile that stretched ear-to-ear, his love for children and the joy that they bring to him. This led to an endearing and true smile throughout the show that makes Pichardo’s character, Elwood, all the more likable.
Pichardo said that his favorite message from the play is that “Everybody has such a big heart…[and] a lesson to teach if you get to know them.”
Harvey was written by Mary Chase in 1942. “Why this play, now?” Director Dave Peterson, PhD., said he had to ask himself when choosing to put on this show back in August 2018. Peterson talked about how the play encourages people to be kind and avoid making harsh and hasty judgments of others.
“We have this bizarre person (Elwood) and what do we do with him?” Peterson asked. To answer this question, he said, “Maybe we can greet that with open and inclusive arms.”
Peterson also talked about how this applies to day-to-day life and the issues that we are currently facing as a society. “Perhaps we can approach things with lightness and fun,” Peterson said, inspired by this play.
While Harvey’s 77 years of existence does date some of the jokes a little bit, the lively audience of opening night was not shy to laugh. Beyond the jokes that the characters verbally delivered, the actors did a wonderful job at conveying humor in their body language and facial expressions.
One member of the audience, freshman communications major Eli Miranda said the show was “very entertaining and funny.” With giggles, he told of his favorite scene, the final scene, where the magic of the show shines.
Divyang Motavar, a freshman computer science major who plays Judge Omar Gaffney, said of his time on the production, “We see the magic.”
While Harvey does have an element of mental health tied to its theme, it does not take center stage, leaving the limelight to the comedy of the play. Motavar said of his second performance with CSUB theatre, “At first, I was digging way too deep.” When he took a lighter approach to the show, he said, “It’s just the fun.”
Senior theatre arts major, Amanda Duke, performs as Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet in Duke’s debut show with CSUB theatre. She said after the show, “It’s really nice to have an audience.”
Duke appreciated the laughter and engagement that the audience provided, and said that feedback from the audience is great. She said as a message to fellow students about the show, “If you need a laugh… just go try something different.”
Anyone looking to take Duke’s advice can come out to see the show. By the end of it, you’ll be seeing the magic, too. Tickets can be purchased at the box office before each show, or presale online at the CSUB theatre website.