Act 1 Opens 45th Season with "Harvey"

by Roseann Damico Schatkowski | Sep 12, 2014

Pulitzer Prize winner is directed by DeSales theatre alumnus Matt Pfeiffer ’99

Act 1 DeSales University Theatre opens its 45th season with Mary Chase’s hilarious comedy of errors, Harvey. This Pulitzer Prize winning play will be presented October 1 to 12, 2014 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, Center Valley, PA.

Harvey opened on Broadway on November 1, 1944, and was directed by Antoinette Perry (for whom the Tony Awards are named). As a testament to the play’s appeal, it has enjoyed two Broadway revivals: one in 1970 with James Stewart and Helen Hayes, and the other in 2012 at The Roundabout Theatre Company starring Jim Parsons of TV’s The Big Bang Theory. It has been adapted for film and television several times; most notably the 1950 film starring James Stewart.

Harvey is one of those great plays written during the heyday of the American theatre—simple, well-constructed plays featuring interesting characters and clever plotlines,” says John Bell, head of the Division of Performing Arts. “Theatres often overlook this type of play when programming for a modern audience and that's too bad because the young generation of playgoers should be exposed to this repertoire.”

Harvey centers on Elwood P. Dowd, an affable, charismatic man who makes friends wherever he goes. When Elwood starts to introduce his presumably imaginary friend, Harvey—whom he describes as a six-foot, three-and-one-half-inch tall pooka resembling an anthropomorphic rabbit—to guests at a society party, his social-climbing sister, Veta, has had as much of his eccentric behavior as she can tolerate. She decides to have him committed to a sanitarium to spare 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 also! The doctors commit Veta instead of Elwood, but when the truth comes out, the search is on for Elwood and his invisible companion. When he shows up at the sanitarium looking for his lost friend Harvey, it seems that the mild-mannered Elwood's delusion has had a strange influence on more than one of the doctors. Only at the end does Veta realize that maybe Harvey isn't so bad after all.

Theatre alumnus Matt Pfeiffer directs the production. “I am thrilled to be returning home to DeSales and Act 1, and I can't think of a better place to stage this classic play,” says Pfeiffer. “I love the joy and optimism of Harvey and that was very much the spirit I had as a student at DeSales. I see that same spirit in the students now; it's what makes Act 1 so special.”

Pfeiffer returns to the Labuda Center after directing “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” this past summer for the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. As the associate artistic director of Theatre Exile, a seven-time Barrymore Award nominee, and a recipient of the F. Otto Hass Award, Matt is an outstanding example of a theatre alumnus working steadily to build a terrific reputation and career in the greater Philadelphia theatre community. "He's a great role model for our current students," says Bell.

Harvey comes to life with sets and costumes by Act 1’s resident creative faculty team: scenic designer Will Neuert and costume designer Amy Best. Senior technical theatre major Allison Newhard serves as lighting designer.

The production runs October 1 to 12, 2014 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There is a morning matinee on Monday, October 6 at 9:45 AM, followed by a talk back with the director and cast. A talk back is also scheduled for Sunday, October 5 after the 2:00 PM performance.

In an effort to improve accessibility for all patrons, the Saturday, October 11, 8:00 PM performance will feature Open Captioning for patrons who are deaf or hearing impaired and Audio Descriptions for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. During Open Captioned performances, all dialogue and sound effects are presented in real-time on an LED screen that is adjacent to the stage. During Audio Described performances, all action and physical appearances are described live through a headset. Tickets are half price for patrons using these special services on this date. Please call box office manager Dael Jackson at 610-282-3654, ext. 1 for more information.

Ticket prices are $21 for adults and $19 for students and seniors on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $25 for adults and $23 for students and seniors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Group discounts are available for all performances. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Labuda Center box office at 610-282-3192 or by visiting the web site at

The Labuda Center is fully accessible and equipped with a listening enhancement system. Special seating is available for our patrons using wheelchairs or requiring other assistance. Please inform the box office of your needs when ordering tickets.

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Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
610.282.1100 x1219

DeSales University
2255 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034