Frontier students turn to lighter subject matter with production of ‘Harvey’

  • The Frontier Regional School Drama Club rehearses for its upcoming production of “Harvey” on Wednesday afternoon at the school in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The Frontier Regional School Drama Club rehearses for its upcoming production of “Harvey” on Wednesday afternoon at the school in South Deerfield. From left are Michael Trueswell, Isabelle Brown, Jolie Giordano and Genesis Locke. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Noah Babb as Elwood Dowd, right, and Julia Walkowicz as Wilson rehearse with the Frontier Regional School Drama Club for their upcoming production of “Harvey” on Wednesday afternoon at the school in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Noah Babb as Elwood Dowd, right, and Isabelle Brown, who plays Dowd’s sister Veta, rehearse with the Frontier Regional School Drama Club for their upcoming production of “Harvey” on Wednesday afternoon at the school in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The Frontier Regional School Drama Club rehearses for its upcoming production of “Harvey” on Wednesday afternoon at the school in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The Frontier Regional School Drama Club rehearses for its upcoming production of “Harvey” on Wednesday afternoon at the school in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 12/5/2019 6:28:03 PM
Modified: 12/5/2019 6:27:52 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Last year, the Frontier Regional School Drama Club performed a production of “1984,” George Orwell’s classic about two protagonists who dream of liberation from a totalitarian regime. The year before that, the club put on a mystery.

So director and club advisor David Peck thought a lighter subject matter might be appropriate this year. And he had the perfect fit: a comedic fantasy about a man whose sister is taken into the care of a mental hospital after trying to get her brother committed because he befriends a 6-foot rabbit named Harvey that only he can see.

“Harvey,” written in 1944 by American playwright Mary Chase, was made into a 1950 film starring Jimmy Stewart as the main character, Elwood Dowd. Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

“It just seemed a comedy would be pretty much the way to go,” Peck said. “I’ve always loved the story of ‘Harvey.’”

He said young students can learn a lot from performing the classics and plays that are a bit older than what they’re used to.

Peck described Dowd as being “not quite in his right mind” but having an everyman quality about him. He explained that when choosing a show, he examines the students he knows will audition for roles — that way the cast and characters will complement one another. Peck said senior Noah Babb is doing an excellent job of handling the subtle humor of the Dowd character. Isabelle Brown plays Veta, Dowd’s sister.

“The laughs start almost from the beginning and then just keep on going,” Peck said.

Babb, a 17-year-old senior, said he sees a lot of himself in Dowd.

“He’s happy all the time, sort of content with everything, just happy to be existing and with people,” he said.

Babb got involved in the drama club two years ago and said he is looking forward to this weekend’s performances.

“The cast has all been very wonderful. It’s been a nice experience meeting all of them and getting better friendships with them,” he said. “And I’m just happy to show our acting talents to Frontier.”

Unlike her co-star, Brown said she and her character are very different. She describes Veta as an upper-class woman who is trying to marry off her daughter, Myrtle Mae, but is hindered by Dowd’s odd behavior and worried about how that will affect her reputation.

“For me, I’m not a lot like Veta, in a lot of cases,” she said, elaborating that Veta is often condescending toward people, which is something Brown works hard not to do, especially as an older sibling. “I have brothers and sisters, and I feel like there’s some moments where the way she treats her brother is not how I would treat my siblings. But, in the end, she does love her brother, and so I can draw on that.”

Brown said she is “nervous but excited” for the shows.

Stage manager Halle Beeltje, a junior, said this week has been a time for buttoning up any of the production’s loose ends.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens. Peck said the play will last roughly two and a half hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

A flier outside the school’s auditorium, where rehearsals and performances are held, informs passersby of the Dec. 9 auditions for a production of “Annie.” The auditions are set for the band room at 2:30 p.m. that day.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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