Hopping its way over to Broadway is “Harvey,” a Mary Chase comedy about a man whose best friend is a six foot tall rabbit. This 1994 Pulitzer Prize winning show opened at Studio 54 in May for previews, and is currently running its limited engagement from June 14 through August 5. The production is a part of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s current season.
The Broadway cast includes Jessica Hecht, Charles Kimbrough, Larry Bryggman, Peter Benson, Tracee Chimo, and more. Most notably, the main character of Elwood P. Dowd is played by Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Jim Parsons. After giving his Broadway debut last year in “The Normal Heart,” Parsons is beyond excited to get back on the Broadway stage. Parsons is best known for his current role as geeky physician, Sheldon Cooper, on NBC’s hit comedy sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, but is using his summer break from filming to work on his stage acting. As he told Gemma Wilson of Broadway.com last year, “having been a student of theater my whole life, I really did feel that Broadway was just that, the pinnacle of being an actor.”
As described by Roundabout, the comedy of “Harvey” comes when Elwood’s sister (played by Jessica Hecht) takes Elwood to the local sanatorium, where they accidentally commit the sister instead of Elwood. As Elwood and Harvey exit the hospital, they set off “a whirlwind of confusion and chaos as everyone in town tries to catch a man and his invisible rabbit.”
The role of Elwood P. Dowd is, according to Roundabout, “one of modern theatre’s most lovable characters.” “There’s a real connectedness Elwood seems to have to the literal world around him that everybody else seems to be viewing as disconnectedness,” Parsons describes his character to Playbill writer Kenneth Jones. “Everyone else seems to feel he’s missing the boat. I think that in many ways Elwood is captain of his boat. He very much feels the waters of these seas.”
Mary Chase, the playwright, was also an American journalist and screenwriter. She is most well-known for “Harvey,” becoming the fourth female to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 1950 “Harvey” was adapted into a film, starring James Stewart as Dowd, after he spent some time playing the role on Broadway. Stewart later appeared in a 1970 Broadway revival.
The original Broadway production of “Harvey” ran from 1944 through 1949 and was first directed by Antoinette Perry, actor, director, and co-founder of the American Theatre Wing, who is the namesake for the Tony Awards show. Roundabout’s production of “Harvey” is under the direction of Scott Ellis, associate artistic director of Roundabout Theatre Company, whose previous credits include “Twelve Angry Men” and “Curtains,” in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
The rest of the production team with director Ellis includes Don Gregory as producer, David Rockwell with sets, Jane Greenwood with costumes, Kenneth Posner with lights, and Obadiah Eaves with sound.
“Harvey” runs evening and matinee performances. Tickets are available at the Studio 54 box office, or by contacting Roundabout Ticket Services at 212-719-1300 or visiting roundabouttheatre.org.