Daniel Shock just missed his opportunity to perform in “Harvey” in high school.
“My high school (Greenfield Central) did the show the year before I became active in Drama Club,” Shock said. “So, it was a show that my new Drama Club friends would reminisce about and talk fondly of as we were preparing the new shows the year that I joined. It became a legend to me, and I am so glad to finally understand — 30-plus years later — what they all loved about it.”
The Noblesville resident will play Elwood P. Dowd in “Harvey” in Improbable Fiction Theatre Company’s production at The Cat Theatre, 254 Veterans Way, Carmel. The performances are at 8 p.m. May 17, 18, 24 and 25 and 2 p.m. May 26.
Dowd’s friend is a 6-foot invisible rabbit named Harvey.
“The challenge of an invisible character is kind of like acting with a castmate who never shows up to rehearsal,” Shock said. “You just have to know where they are supposed to be and be prepared to help guide them along when they get on stage.”
Shock recently watched the 1950 film version for the first time with Jimmy Stewart as Dowd.
“Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorite actors of all time,” Shock said. “What he brings to every part he plays is simple, earnest human truth. We could all do a lot worse than acting like Jimmy Stewart. I embrace what he did. He is my starting point. The more I say the lines, the more the performance becomes my own.”
Indianapolis resident Matt Hartzburg plays Dr. Sanderson.
“Harvey is a classic show and I consider it a privilege to work with so many talented souls, both new and familiar,” Hartzburg said. “The humor is very dry and subtle and makes the audience pay close attention to the dialogue. My role, Dr. Sanderson, is quite different from other characters I’ve played before. He’s very sure of himself, to a fault. He takes himself and his job extremely seriously and regards Dr. Chumley with the highest reverence, but there are a few moments where Sanderson’s ego is put aside and a little bit of vulnerability peeks through.”
Hartzburg said it’s been a fun challenge to present the kind of emotional range in a character that, at first glance, appears to be professional and reserved.
Caity Withers, Indianapolis, is cast as Nurse Kelly.
“’Harvey’ is simple and lighthearted and a great reminder to always take time to stop and enjoy life and others,” Withers said. “I like playing Nurse Kelly because she’s the most capable person in the sanitarium. She tries hard to keep everything together when the situation with Elwood and Harvey starts to spin out of control.”
Dana Lesh, Indianapolis, is directing the play.
“I’ve loved the story for a long time,” Lesh said. “It’s so endearing. Elwood P. Dowd is one of the most lovable characters ever written. And his friendship with Harvey, the invisible 6-foot rabbit, is one of the closest you’ll ever see, but not actually see.”
For tickets, visit iftheatrecompany.org.