Saint Vincent Summer Theatre will open its 50th season of professional theatre with the popular comedy, Harvey, by Mary Chase, a show which was presented during the theatre’s first season in 1969, from May 24 to June 10. It will be directed by Saint Vincent producing artistic director Greggory Brandt.
“When Elwood P. Dowd starts to introduce his imaginary friend, Harvey, a six-and-a-half-foot rabbit, to guests at a society party, his sister, Veta, has seen as much of his eccentric behavior as she can tolerate,” Brandt commented. “She decides to have him committed to a sanitarium to spare her daughter, Myrtle Mae, and their family from future embarrassment. Problems arise, however, when Veta herself is mistakenly assumed to be on the verge of lunacy when she explains to doctors that years of living with Elwood’s hallucination have caused her to see Harvey, too! It turns out that Elwood’s delusion has a strange influence on more than one of the doctors, and in the end maybe Harvey isn’t so bad after all.”
Preview performance is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24, and evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. May 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, June 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Matinee performances are at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 27, Wednesday, May 30, Sunday, June 3, Wednesday, June 6, and Sunday, June 10. There are no performances on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, or Monday, June 4.
The show features Saint Vincent Summer Theatre veteran Cav O’Leary as “Elwood P. Dowd” as well as other veterans Renata Marino as “Veta Louise Simmons;” Ron Siebert as “William R. Chumley, M.D.;” Harley Allen as “Judge Omar Gaffney;” Cary Anne Spear as “Betty Chumley;” Daniel Krell as “Lyman Sanderson, M.D.;” and Jason Michael Swauger as “E. J. Lofgren.”
Making their debut on the Saint Vincent stage are Lilli Babb who will play “Myrtle Mae Simmons;” Cyndi Plyler as “Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet;” Kayleen Seidl as “Ruth Kelly, R.N.;” and Daniel Pivovar as “Duane Wilson.”
O’Leary, a 2004 graduate of Hempfield Area High School who has been in love with theatre since he was in the first grade, will make his 22nd appearance at Saint Vincent. A native of Greensburg who has studied at Penn State, WCCC and Point Park University, he has also performed in New York City. He recalls his first stage experience when he was a youngster in a Christmas play at the Greensburg Alliance Church. “I was a shepherd boy,” he recalls. “I have loved the theatre ever since.” He made his debut in 2009 as “Cosme McMoon” in Souvenir. Since then he has appeared as “Sparky” in Forever Plaid, as “Rick Steadman” in The Nerd, as “Felix Ungar” in The Odd Couple and as “Lionel Toop” in See How They Run, along with many others.
Marino, who has been active at Saint Vincent as both an actress and choreographer, has appeared in I Love a Piano (Sadie), A Grand Night for Singing (Alyson), Into the Woods (The Witch), The Nerd (Clelia Waldgrave), Suite Surrender (Claudia McFadden) and Ladies Man (Suzanne Aubin) among others. She was the choreographer for Cole, Route 66 and most recently My Way, A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra.
Krell and Siebert appeared together in 2015’s Tuesdays with Morrie, playing “Mitch Albom” and “Morrie Schwartz” respectively. Harley Allen is remembered by audiences for his portrayal of “Vinnie” in The Odd Couple(2016) and “Richard” in Moon Over Buffalo (2015). Spear has played “Madame Caron” in Is He Dead? (2010), “Mrs. Everett Osgood” in Suite Surrender (2012) and “Maria” in Lend Me a Tenor (2013). Swauger made his debut with the musical hit Forever Plaid.
Babb, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theatre from Rider University, has appeared on television (Six Feet Under and Carnivale on HBO and Method and Red on Fox), film (A Cinderella Story and The Sandbox), theatre and on the university stage.
Plyler, of Ellwood City, has extensive theatre experience including roles at the Strand Theatre, Lincoln Park, Lancaster Freedom Players, Calvin Center Theatre, Youngstown Playhouse, Butler Little Theatre and the Red Barn Players. She appears in television commercials for Alta Health Care, DeCarbo Funeral Home and others.
Seidl, who performed on the national tour of Guys and Dolls with Big League Productions and acted on the New York stage in The Sorceress and Eddie and the Palaceades, has also done regional theatre at the Gretna Theatre, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, Heartland Opera Theatre, Woodstock Playhouse, White Plains Performing Arts Center, Seagle Music Colony and St. Olaf Lyric Theatre. She studied vocal performance at Saint Olaf College.
Pivovar has appeared off-Broadway at the Snapple Theatre and the Theatres at 45 Bleecker Street as well as off-off-Broadway at The Times Square Arts Center, The Secret Theatre and at the Theatre for the New City. He also toured with the Pittsburgh CLO productions of Arriba Arriba and Steel. He studied musical theatre and acting at the School of Performing Arts at the State University of New York at Geneseo.
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre patrons are asked to make ticket reservations in advance because all seats are reserved for all performances except Thursday evening preview shows, which are general admission. Reservations may be made by calling the theatre box office, which opens on Monday, May 7, at 724-537-8900. An additional $1 service charge will be applied to all tickets when they are picked up from the box office. Presently, theatre patrons can also make reservations online by going to www.svst.org. A credit card is required for online reservations, and such reservations are transferable, but non-refundable.
Individual tickets are $15 for preview performances, $22 on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings, $25 on Friday and Saturday evenings and $18 for matinees. Special theatre party group rates apply to groups of 20 guests or more. Senior citizens, 62 or older, are eligible for a discount upon request on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings only. Special subscription plans are also available. Four-show and three-show subscription plans are again being offered this season. In addition, student tickets along with aspiring artists are available for $12 for any seat, any performance.
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre performances are all scheduled in the comfortable, air-conditioned Performing Arts Center of the Robert S. Carey Student Center on the beautiful Saint Vincent College campus. Free trolley service will continue to be provided to and from the spacious and convenient parking areas adjacent to the Saint Vincent Basilica.
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre will continue to feature its well-known Cabaret, the special after-the-show reception to which all theatre patrons are invited. Saint Vincent students serve snacks, hot dogs and beverages after the production and also provide entertainment. The cabaret is open after all performances except Thursday preview shows and all matinees. Theatre officials encourage donations ($5 per person) if patrons enjoy themselves at the after-the-show gathering.
The 29th annual Saint Vincent Summer Theatre Gala will be held Friday, June 29. All proceeds benefit the Saint Vincent Summer Theatre. To receive an invitation or further details, phone 724-805-2901.
A free brochure is available by contacting the Saint Vincent Theatre box office at 724-537-8900.
Photo: Cav O’Leary will play the role of Elwood P. Dowd.