HARVEY comes to San Mateo

The Crystal Spring Players present……
Mary Chase
Weekends, November 11-19 @ 8pm and November 13 @ 7 pm
Directed by Paul Wells and starring Cheryl Pierson and Brian Rausch

If you have never seen Mary Chase’s charming piece about a man whose best friend is a 6 foot invisible rabbit, (and even if you have) you owe it to yourself to check out this delightful combination of farce and fantasy at The Crystal Spring Theatre this month.
The play is a lot more than a comic farce. It has a lot to say about the importance of preserving the unique spark that makes us all a bit different from each other. It won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1944, and its initial run lasted for four years—1,775 performances. It was made into a movie in 1950 with Jimmy Stewart and its charm has not faded over the years. Indeed if anything, the humor and the pathos are more meaningful today than ever before, with our emphasis on conformity and politically correct behavior. It is, after all, the renegades and the originals that move our world forward and Chase’s Elwood P. Dowd (Brian Rausch) is exactly that. The story revolves around his sister Veta Louise’s (Cheryl Pierson) attempt to commit her brother to the local sanitarium. This production is beautifully paced and director Paul Wells (who also plays the head psychiatrist of Chumley’s Rest Home) has added a delightful forties feel to the production with a jazz quintet especially assembled for the production called “Chumley’s Pookas”. The mini-orchestra plays vintage songs of the era during scene changes sung by Johnny Villar while the cast moves the scenery around and dances to the irresistible beat.

The set is beautifully put together, the costumes are charming and choreography of this production is excellent. Cheryl Pierson is perfection as Dowd ‘s frazzled, frustrated sister trying to present her daughter to society in a respectable light while dealing with a brother who wanders through town carrying on spirited conversations with a rabbit. Johnny Villar plays the cab driver that takes Elwood to the sanitarium and it his beautifully rendered speech that is the turning point of the play. He tells Veta about the change that comes over the supposedly crazy people he brings to be treated and how once they are “cured” they have lost the essence of who they really are. We all face these decisions today when we must decide when to use a drug to calm a hyperactive child or lift a person from the depths of depression. At what point is the medicine more destructive than the cure?

Both Villar and Pierson steal the show for this reviewer. Pierson plays her character with real soul. She is far more than a comic character. She is a kind and caring person trying to deal with an impossible situation and still keep her wits about her. Villar’s singing adds a special rhythm to songs that have been eternal favorites such as “I’ll Be Seeing You”, “It’s Only a Paper Moon” and “Young at Heart.”

The Crystal Springs Players must be commended for bringing this lovely production to its stage. Community theater is one of the finest of our creative institutions. It brings together undiscovered talents of our neighbors and friends and gives us all an opportunity to have our moment in the spotlight. The cast in this production have donated hours of their time to create a memorable evening for us all. Don’t miss the opportunity to see what they have created. You won’t be sorry.

HARVEY continues November 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 @ 8 pm. November 13 @ 7pm at the Crystal Springs Theater, 2145 Bunker Hill Drive in San Mateo.
Reservations 650 345 2381