Student play rounds out Performance Hall productions with humor

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Student play rounds out Performance Hall productions with humor

Admission counselor Andrew Buhr will play the eccentric protagonist in the play Harvey, directed by senior theatre arts major Megan White. Photo: Olivia Prairie

“Who is Harvey?”

This is the question constantly being asked by many of the characters in the upcoming BJU theatre arts production of the play Harvey.

The protagonist, Elwood P. Dowd, played by admission counselor Andrew Buhr, answers, “He is a white rabbit, six feet, three and a half inches. Now let’s stick to the facts.” How exactly does director Megan White plan to portray a six-foot-tall rabbit? He’s imaginary, of course.

Written by Mary Chase in 1944, the play Harvey received the Pulitzer Prize for drama a year later and was adapted into a film starring Jimmy Stewart in 1950. Featuring the middle-aged Elwood, the story follows the reactions of his friends upon learning of his completely imaginary friend Harvey. Most notably, his social-climbing sister, Veta, grows increasingly frustrated at Elwood’s eccentric behavior and attempts to have him committed to an insane asylum. A hilarious and unpredictable chain of events ensues when Veta’s strategy doesn’t exactly go according to plan.

Megan White will direct and produce the play in partial fulfillment of her theatre arts degree. White is responsible for selecting a script, choosing actors, designing sets and costumes, and advertising the play.

“Since it is student theatre, the director often wears many different hats,” White said. “My senior project means I have to manage my own production — not just managing actors and crew, but also the cost and advertising of the play.”

The role of director demands a high degree of focus and ability to concentrate on the big picture, instead of always fine-tuning small details. As director and producer, communication is key, White said, even when there are a million tasks that need to be completed.

The cast of Harvey features actors with different levels of experience. Senior theatre arts major Miranda Wells is also completing her senior project by performing the role of Myrtle Mae, the 20-year-old niece of Elwood P. Dowd.

“She is desperately wanting a man to marry, but when Elwood always introduces Harvey to her suitors, she becomes more and more bitter, as he is sabotaging her future,” Wells said. Although Wells has high school acting experience and has worked behind the scenes of other BJU dramatic productions, this is her first major role in a production at BJU.

Ms. Jane Smith, transition adviser for the Academic Resource Center, will play the part of Veta, Elwood’s scheming and frustrated sister, and Stephen Rohrer, a junior international studies major, will play the young psychiatrist Dr. Sanderson, who attempts to solve the riddle of Harvey’s existence. This is Rohrer’s first acting role, and he said he has thoroughly enjoyed the behind-the-scenes experience. “It’s been interesting learning how to interact on stage, while being mindful and aware of how to best tell the story to the audience,” Rohrer said.

As the semester winds to a close, Harvey is the perfect way to take a break from the mounting deadlines and looming exams, White said. “Many comedies may not have a solid message, but Harvey is different. We see Elwood roll with the punches and try to be pleasant instead of the smartest person around,” White said.

Harvey will be performed April 24 through May 2, with the exception of April 27 and 28, in Performance Hall. Tickets can be purchased online at bju.universitytickets.com or at the door.