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Laguna Playhouse Stages HARVEY Starring French Stewart

Laguna Playhouse Stages HARVEY Starring French Stewart

Laguna Playhouse is delighted to present French Stewart and Vanessa Claire Stewart starring in the wonderfully comic HARVEY, written by Mary Chase and directed by Andrew Barnicle. Comments Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham and Executive Director Ellen Richard, "We could not think of a better play to end our 98th season with than HARVEY, starring French and Vanessa Claire Stewart under the inspired direction of Andrew Barnicle. French Stewart will be the perfect Elwood, a role he has always wanted to play! Our subscribers and audiences are going to go crazy with laughter and believe in very tall rabbits once more!" HARVEY begins previews on Wednesday, May 26; will open on Sunday, June 2 at 5:30pm and perform through Sunday, June 16, 2019 at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Drive in Laguna Beach.

It is a spring afternoon at the Dowd family home when Elwood P. Dowd starts to introduce his imaginary friend Harvey, a six-and-a-half-foot tall rabbit, to guests at his sister Veta's society luncheon. Horrified that the embarrassing family secret is now exposed, Veta decides to have Elwood committed to a sanitarium, but a mistake is made when Veta is committed rather than Elwood. French Stewart ("3rd Rock from the Sun," "Mom") and real-life wife Vanessa Claire Stewart (Laguna Playhouse's "Keely" in Louis and Keely: Live at the Sahara) star in Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy that has everyone questioning what exactly is real, and who is really crazy?

Mary Chase (Playwright) first play to be professionally staged was Me Third (written in 1936), and directed by Brock Pemberton, founder of the Tony Awards, under the title Now I've Done It. Mr. Pemberton was so confident of Mrs. Chase's ability that he undertook to produce another piece called The White Rabbit, on the condition that its title be changed to Harvey. The play was an immediate hit and won its astonished author the Pulitzer Prize for 1944-45. Mrs. Chase had to wait until 1952 for her next success, when Helen Hayes starred in Mrs. McThing. She had another success the following year with Bernadine, which was later turned into a successful Hollywood movie starring Pat Boone. Her last play to reach New York was Midge Purvis (1961), in which Tallulah Bankhead played a rich matron who passes as a doddering crone. In addition to plays and films, she wrote two children's novels. Almost all of her work was humane and comic, informed by her love of Irish folklore. Mary Chase was a member of the Dramatists Guild and was given the William MacLeod Raine Award from the Colorado Authors' League in 1944. In 1947 the University of Denver honored her with the degree of Doctor of Letters. She died in October 1981 at her home in Denver, survived by her three sons, Michael, Colin, and Barry.

Andrew Barnicle (Director) served as artistic director of the Laguna Playhouse from 1991 through 2010, where he produced over 100 Playhouse shows and directed over 40 of them. Recent directing projects at Laguna include the world premiere of King of the Road: The Roger Miller Story, Sex And Education, starring Julia Duffy, Shirley Valentine, Private Lives, and Moonlight and Magnolias.He has also directed at San Diego's Theatre at Old Town, Michigan's Meadow Brook Theatre, Burbank's Colony Theatre, Ventura's Rubicon Theatre, the San Jose Repertory Theatre, the Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara, San Diego's North Coast Rep, Burbank's Colony Theatre, the Hudson Guild Theatre in Hollywood and L.A.'s Odyssey Theatre.

French Stewart (Elwood P. Dowd) began his theater career as a member of Justin Tanner's legendary Cast theater originating roles in Zombie Attack, Party Mix, Pot Mom, Teen Girl, Happy Time X Mas, and Intervention. Recent theater credits include; Stoneface (Sacred Fools, Pasadena Playhouse), Finks (Rogue Machine - LADCC nom)Forever Bound (Atwater) Voice Lessons (With Laurie Metcalf - Steppenwolf, Theater Row), Tesla (Laguna Playhouse) and Watson (Sacred Fools). On television - French is best known as Harry on the classis series"3rd Rock From The Sun." Recurring credits include"Mom," "Secrets and Lies," "NCIS," "The Middle,"and as the Scorpio Slasher on"Deadly Class." French met his wife Vanessa in a green room romance (Geffen).

Vanessa Claire Stewart(Veta Louise Simmons) co-wrote and starred as Keely Smith in Louis and Keely: Live at the Sahara for Sacred Fools (Ovation Award for best actress, best musical). Louis and Keely later moved to The Geffen Playhouse, Laguna Playhouse and Royal George Theater in Chicago. She also penned Stoneface starring French Stewart (Sacred Fools, Pasadena Playhouse) Favorite roles: Alex, A Clockwork Orange (LA Weekly award for best actress); Natalie; Finks (Rogue Machine) Laura, The Glass Menagerie; Louise, Gypsy; Olivia, Twelfth Night. FILM/TV: "Rules of Engagement," "Wanda Sykes Show," "The List," "Chase the Slut" (Edinburgh Film Fest). Vanessa is thrilled to be back at Laguna Playhouse acting alongside her husband French.

The Cast of HARVEY will also feature: Larry Cedar (HBO's "Deadwood"), Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper (at Laguna Playhouse: End of the Rainbow), Nick Gabriel (Endgame opposite Bill Irwin and Nihad inScorched opposite David Strathairn at ACT), Teresa Ganzel ("The Toy" with Jackie Gleason, 35 appearances on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson"), Lily Gibson (The Nibroc Trilogy at Rubicon Theatre Company, Ovation Award for Best Lead Actress), Roxane Hayward (Shakespeare in Love), Gregory North (Broadway:Grand Hotel opposite Cyd Charisse, Into the Woods), Tom Shelton (Laguna Playhouse; The Woman In Black, A Moon For The Misbegotten) and Carole Ita White ("Laverne and Shirley, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show").

The Design Team for HARVEY is as follows: Scenic Design is by Bruce Goodrich; Lighting Design by Lonnie Alcaraz; Costume Design by Kate Bergh; Sound Design by Kate Wecker. The Casting Director is Michael Donovan, CSA.The Production Stage Manager is Vernon Willett.

The season is generously underwritten by The Hale Family.

HARVEY will begin previews on Wednesday, May 29; will open on Sunday, June 2 at 5:30pm and perform through Sunday, June 16, 2019 at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Drive in Laguna Beach.

Performances will be Wednesdays through Fridays at 7:30pm; Saturdays at 2pm & 7:30pm; Sundays at 1:00pm. There will be added performances on Thursday, May 30 at 2pm; Tuesday, June 4 at 7:30pm; Sunday, June 9 at 5:30pm and Thursday, June 13 at 2pm. There will be Talk-Backs following the performances on Saturday, June 8 at 2pm and Thursday, June 13 at 7:30pm.

Tickets range from $60 - $85 and can be purchased online at or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787). Group discounts are available by calling 949-497-2787 ext. 229. Prices subject to change.

The box office is open Mondays - Saturdays: 11a.m. to 5p.m.; Sundays: 11a.m. - 4p.m.(open until showtime on all performance days).

For more information on all shows and programming visit Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.

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