I’ve never seen the classic film version of “Harvey,” but my high school did do a production of the stage play back in the day. It brought back some cozy nostalgia seeing the show again on opening night at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater this Friday, and this production definitely stoked the warm memories. As is becoming a tradition (is two times a tradition?), I went to this show on a roomies double date with my roommate, my sister, and her roommate.
“Harvey” is a sweet, old-fashioned play. It brings a lot of laughs and a heart-warming message about the many unique ways to see the world. It’s not one that’s going to leave you with a lot of deep thoughts to struggle with afterwards. The jokes are pretty broadly telegraphed. But that’s fine by me; I enjoy the serious stuff just as much as the next girl (the Rep’s production of “An Iliad” was one of my favorite shows of last season), but there’s just something comforting about Elwood P. Dowd and his sweet smile and sunny disposition.
As a vintage-loving girl, the 1940s setting and fabulous costumes definitely didn’t hurt my enjoyment. I’ll admit to drooling over some of the shoes and dresses on display, and those seamed stockings are always fabulous. I also really loved the set – the Rep always does a great job with the grand, complex sets that make the most out of the unique and intimate space of the Quadracci stage. I’m a sucker for anything that rotates!
A comedy of miscommunications and missed connections is pretty much the oldest trick in the book, but it never felt stale during the show. It was, emotionally, a warm blanket that felt just right on a blustery winter’s night. Even though “Harvey” isn’t explicitly a holiday show, it’s definitely one that’s well-suited to the season. I highly recommend checking it out!
Harvey runs now through Dec. 21 in the Quadracci Powerhouse at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.