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LCCT pulls a rabbit out of its hat with magical production of ‘Harvey’


I never imagined that Las Cruces Community Theatre’s (LCCT) production of “Harvey,” an Oscar- and Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy would leave me in tears. But it did.

There’s a scene at the end that caught me off guard, as Elwood P. Dowd (Brandon Brown) and Dr. William R. Chumley (David Edwards) are discussing Harvey’s (the 6-foot, 1 1/2-inch invisible rabbit) ability to stop clocks and control time. I won’t spoil it for you, because you really should see it for yourself. But the combination of playwright Mary Chase’s wonderful script and the work of two of Las Cruces all-time great actors got to me, along with the joy and gratitude I felt being back in the front row at LCCT after seeing the play’s director, Gail Wheeler, LCCT Board President Janet Beatty-Payne and board member Tom Warren in the lobby.

This is a wonderful, amazing, magical show filled with talented actors who are supported by a great crew. You will love the set, the costumes (kudos to Janet Beatty-Payne), the music (thank you, Mike Wise!), the set design and the fabulous “special art” by the brilliant Bob Diven.

There are many, many gold stars to award for this production, beginning with the theater company itself. Like Black Box Theatre just down Main Street from LCCT to the north and Rio Grande Theatre to the south, and like the NMSU Theatre Department, Blank Conversations Theatre Company and others, LCCT hung in there through the pandemic and has returned in grand style.

I didn’t think Lennie Brown could top her performance (one of the best I have ever seen) as Florence Forster Jenkins in LCCT’s 2019 production of “Glorious!”. But Lennie may have outdone herself (and Florence) with her work as Veta Louise Dowd Simmons, Elwood’s sister and the play’s chief troublemaker. Alex Wheeler Larkin, another of my very favorites, is also great as Veta’s daughter, Myrtle Mae Simmons. Watching the two of them on stage together is like watching Dave and Brandon – you can almost see the sparks.

Cindy Murrell is just wonderful, as always, as Betty Chumley, Dr. Chumley’s long-suffering wife. I loved Miguel Cruz in the fake mustache (I honestly wasn’t sure until I saw him backstage without it) as Judge Omar Gaffney, Nathan Harper as the wolfish and overbearing Dr. Lyman Sanderson, Erin Wendorf as the enticing and eager-to-please nurse Ruth Kelly, Alecks Rundell as the evil orderly Duane Wilson, Vanessa Dabovich (kudos also as stage manager) as the high-society and plummy-voiced Ethel Chauvenet (how I loved the hat!) and Ed Montes as cab driver E. J. Lofgren. Ed’s part is not a big one, but the entire story turns on it and he is another bright spot in a cast full of them.

Remaining performances of “Harvey” are 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Aug. 27-28 and Sept. 3-4; and 2 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 29 and Sept. 5.

Masks are required for audience members and there are about 190 seats in the theatre, so there is every reason to go see this show. You will have a fabulous time.

And remember, just because you can’t see a 6-foot invisible pooka doesn’t mean he can’t see you.

Ticket prices for “Harvey” are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors, military and students, $10 for children 12 years old and under and $10 for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available online at lcctnm.org and at the door. Student rush tickets are available for purchase at the box office 15 minutes before showtime for $5 with a valid ID. Call 575-523-1200.

LCCT is located at 313 N. Main St. Downtown.