By Mark Ambrogi
When Lawrence North High School theater teacher Stacy Embry thought about directing “Harvey,” she definitely had Matt Tavel in mind as Elwood P. Dowd.
“Elwood P. Dowd takes a lot of skill and a lot of maturity,” said Embry, the Drama Club coach. “When the time came up to do it, here comes Matt. I’m thinking affable, kind, positive. Oh my God, it’s perfect. It’s a stretch for him because it’s a big part. But it seemed to be a natural fit.”
Tavel, a Lawrence North High School senior, will play Dowd in “Harvey” in the Lawrence North’s Little Theater at 7 p.m. on April 10 and 11. Tickets are available at the door for $5. Dowd’s invisible friend Harvey is a 6-foot-31/2 rabbit or a pooka as Dowd calls him.
Tavel said he watched Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal of Dowd from the 1950 movie, but is trying to put his own take on the character.
“It’s the most challenging so far considering I have to talk to an empty space next to me most of the time,” Tavel said. “He’s out there.”
Tavel said he and fellow cast members have embraced the play.
“The people in the play have found the comedic aspect and I hope the audience will too,” he said.
“I definitely feel it’s a nice, hard-warming and funny show.”
Tavel started acting his sophomore year.
“I fell in love with it,” Tavel said. “I’ve gone up the ladder of the acting scale, learning more and more each day. It’s really interesting to become a different person, change who you are but became that character in your own way. Using your words and emotions to become someone you are not.”
Tavel has also appeared in musicals, including playing Sammy in “The Wedding Singer” last fall.
“I didn’t really know I could sing,” Tavel said. “I start taking singing lessons, but I definitely like acting most.”
Tavel, who serves as anchor for Lawrence North’s online TV station Cat’s Eye plans to attend Columbia College in Chicago to study broadcast journalism and hopes to minor in acting.
Personal: Plans to major in broadcast journalism with a minor in acting at Columbia College in Chicago. Recently moved to Westfield with his mother and sister Isabel Holmes, who is a second grader at Shamrock Elementary.
Other activities: President of the Drama Club, Character CREW and anchor for Cat’s Eye.
Favorite movie: “Interstellar.”
Favorite TV show: “The Walking Dead” and “The Fosters.”
Favorite class: “I really love theater arts. I’ve also been a fan of sciences.”
Favorite type of music: “I like classical rock. I’m a Beatles fan.”
Future plans: “Hopefully, I will be an anchor at some news station and maybe some acting on the side.”
Matt Tavel as Elwood P. Dowd
Linsey Babrick as Veta Louise Simmons
Emma O’Leary as Myrtle Mae Simmons
Calvin Hart as Dr. Chumley
Wesley Powell as Judge Gaffney
Noah Nordman as Dr. Sanderson
Jacquelyn Lucie Aspling as Nurse Kelly
William Freeman as Orderly Wilson
Waverly Douglas as Mrs. Chumley
Jessica McClintock as Mrs. Chauvenet
Drakar Munoz as Cabbie, EJ Lofgren