Wilford Brimley stars in "Harvey" for director Thomas G. Waites and The Stage DoorWilford Brimley stars in “Harvey” for director Thomas G. Waites and The Stage Door

There’s been no shortage of quality stage productions in the area as of late, and with the likes of Tuacahn, St. George Musical Theater, Hurricane Valley Theatrical Company, and Brigham’s Playhouse continuing to deliver the goods, it’s clear that live theater is alive and well in St. George. Look no further than The Stage Door. Coming off a powerful adaptation of “Jekyll and Hyde” and a wonderfully vibrant production of “White Christmas,” Stage Door managing director Kerry Perry and crew are showing no signs of slowing down.

Up next? A new stage version of the whimsical gem “Harvey.” Based on Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, this title was made popular by a wonderful film from the ’50s starring the great James Stewart. “Harvey” tells the story of Elwood P. Dowd, a polite and friendly man with a very strange best friend — a six-foot, three-and-one-half-inch invisible rabbit named Harvey. Elwood’s concerned sister Veta fears that his best pal will interfere with her life as a socialite, so she tries to have her brother committed at the local sanatorium. Does Harvey actually exist, or is he simply a figment of Elwood’s vivid imagination?

Not that you need further reasons to take in what is sure to be a delightful live experience, but it should be noted that this stage production of “Harvey” stars veteran Wilford Brimley as Elwood P. Dowd and is directed by seasoned actor Thomas G. Waites, making this a “The Thing” reunion of sorts. That’s right! These two fantastic actors appeared together in the John Carpenter-directed masterwork over 35 years ago, but don’t let that little tidbit of intriguing insight scare you from seeing “Harvey.” No paranoia or slimy aliens in this show. Just a lot of charm and magic.

While many folks will recognize Brimley as a spokesman for both diabetes and Quaker Oats, I first gained a grand appreciation for this wonderful actor after bearing witness to a string of outstanding performances in the ’80s. Not only in “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” which I would argue is the greatest horror picture of all time, but also in “The Natural,” “Absence of Malice,” “Tender Mercies,” “Remo Williams,” “The Stone Boy,” and of course “Cocoon,” just to name a precious few. Nowadays, Brimley continues working, and he’s also quite the champion of the local arts scene. It’ll be an absolute treat to see him in this show.

Likewise, Waites is quite the accomplished actor himself.  He’s appeared in several high-profile films including “The Warriors,” “…And Justice For All,” “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” and “State of Grace.” Waites currently lives in New York where he continues to work in both film and theater. It’s an absolute thrill to have someone of his stature bringing “Harvey” to life here in St. George.

Wilford Brimley stars in "Harvey" for director Thomas G. Waites and The Stage Door

Of course, The Stage Door prides itself on the best in community theater, and Team “Harvey” has assembled a wonderful cast comprised of the strongest in local talent including Carolyn Murset, David Love, Jacob Aloi, Jane Williams, Lori Olsen, Alyna Eaves, Richard Keith Hill, Trent Cox, Carmie Golightly, and Trey Paterson.

Given my affection for the film — it was required viewing in my household when I was a child — and given the talent involved in this Stage Door production, I welcome this show  with open arms.

“Harvey” opens at The Electric Theater Thursday, Jan. 11! For ticket information and showtimes, click here. 

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