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Potomac Playmakers prove pookas exist 5/26

May 28, 2002|BY KATE COLEMAN

Potomac Playmakers will open "Harvey," the final play of community theater organization's 76th season, Friday, May 31. Mary Chase's Pulitzer-Prize-winning comedy in three acts will run next weekend and the following one on the stage of the auditorium at the Woman's Club in Hagerstown.

"Harvey" is the story of Elwood P. Dowd and his imaginary friend, Harvey, a 6 1/2-foot rabbit.

Dowd, played by Playmakers veteran Dick Hershey, is a lovable eccentric. Only he can see Harvey, a "pooka" - a fairy spirit in animal form - from Celtic mythology.

Dowd so believes in Harvey that he matter-of-factly and regularly introduces the rabbit to people, creating problems for his sister Veta Louise Simmons, played by Nancy Hershey, and her frantically unmarried daughter Myrtle May, portrayed by Leslie Cruger.

When Dowd brings the figment of his imagination to his sister's dinner party, Veta Louise can tolerate no more, and sets about having Elwood committed to Chumley's Rest, a sanitarium for mental patients.

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Misunderstandings happen, of course, and Veta Louise is the one who is admitted to the sanitarium.

Dick Hershey also is directing the play. Associate Director Summer Nemir has been involved in Playmakers productions for years - on stage and off. "It's just my passion," she says.

Mary Kinsley, who says she's "just doing props" for "Harvey," also has been with Playmakers for a long time. "For life, I think," she says. She's acted in, directed or worked backstage, and played Veta Louise in Playmakers' February 1977 of "Harvey." Playmakers also presented the play in 1956.

Clay Carey plays Judge Gaffney in "Harvey." He's been involved in Playmakers productions since 1988, and likes the group because the people are friendly and don't play politics.

He's enjoyed being in the cast and likes "Harvey."

"It's a cute play. I think it's a piece of Americana," he says.

David Woods, who actually holds a doctorate in behavioral sciences, plays psychiatrist Dr. Chumley. Pat Stine is Mrs. Chumley, who she says is dominated by her husband. Charlotte Marker is Mrs. Chauvenet, and her son Gerry White portrays E.J. Lofgren.

Nurse Kelley of Chumley's Rest is played by Kristine Vernier and Jeff Meyer portrays Dr. Sanderson. Chuck Latimer, another longtime playmaker, plays Wilson, the sanitarium orderly.

"Harvey" debuted at the Forty-Eighth Street Theatre in New York City in November 1944. Playmakers trust that the play will work again for their 21st-century audiences.

Dowd tells a psychiatrist he wrestled with reality for forty years, and is happy to state that he finally won out over it.

The play's message still works. "If someone's crazy - but good crazy - leave them alone," Dick Hershey says.

"Harvey"

Friday, May 31, Saturday, June 1, 8 p.m.

Sunday, June 2, 3 p.m.

Thursday, June 6, Friday, June 7, Saturday, June 8, 8 p.m.

Women's Club auditorium

31 S. Prospect St.

Hagerstown

Tickets cost $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens and students.

For reservations, call 301-791-8182 or 1-800-461-1803, Mondays through Saturdays, 2 to 6 p.m.

For information, go to www.potomacplaymakers on the Web.

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