Harvey comes to life at Phoenix Stage Company


Spencer Poulin, as Dr. Lyman Sanderson, and Jane Coughlin, as Veta Luoise Simmons, rehearse a scene from the Phoenix Stage Company’s production of ‘Harvey’ Monday at the theater in Naugatuck. The production opens Saturday.-LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Phoenix Stage Company is preparing to welcome an imaginary white rabbit to the stage.

The Phoenix Stage Company’s production of “Harvey” opens Saturday.

Harvey follows the character of Elwood who is friends with an invisible, 6-foot-tall white rabbit named Harvey.

On Monday evening the cast was running through the play without any cues. The stage was almost complete and the costumes were nearly ready.

“This is always the toughest week. It’s when all the details that make it a show get layered in,” director Donna Storms said.

She explained that the, along with the costumes and set, the company is perfecting the lighting and sound. This is the part in the production when everyone has to show every day of the week and make sure any problems get smoothed out.

“We’re putting on all those little finishing touches that make it more than a reading,” Storms said.

Despite how difficult this week is, Storms is pleased with how well the play is coming together.

“It’s going so well that I keep waiting for that other shoe to drop and something to go wrong,” Storms joked.

She said right from the beginning, when the auditions were held, the right people came in and auditioned.

“The people who turned out for the auditions were the exact types of people that I wanted to cast. They are all likeable, generous on stage, and a pleasure to work with,” Storms said.

Storms is very familiar with directing. Besides previously directing a play at Phoenix, she has also directed plays at the Thomaston Opera House, Goshen Players Theater, and the Southington Community Theatre.

She is also familiar with this play, having performed the part of Veta in 2000 for a production at the Warner Theater.

“I love this play,” Storms said. “Even though it’s set in the ‘40s, it stands up to the test of time. The play shows that it’s tough to be different, but sometimes it’s OK to march to the beat of your own drum.”

Naugatuck resident Tim Phillips, who plays Dr. William Chumley, also performed in a prior production of Harvey, in which he played Elwood.

“I’m coming at it from a completely different angle,” Phillips said.

Phillips explained that he is leaving everything from the last production behind and starting completely fresh.

“I’m taking on a character that I didn’t feel was completely fleshed out last time, and I wanted to bring more life to,” Phillips said.

He said he normally doesn’t act in a play more than once, but Harvey is one of his favorite plays.

Phillips said he loves working in community theater because of all the different people that he gets to work with.

“One thing that shows what community theater is all about is that I have worked with about half of these people before and half I’ve never worked with before. There are people I have worked with for 10 years and people who I met for the first time during this production,” Phillips said.

Phillips is also happy to be working with the Phoenix Stage Company.

“Phoenix is the most comfortable theater I have ever worked at,” Phillips said. “They go out of their way to make sure everyone is comfortable, and it shows in their productions.”

Harvey will be performed at the Phoenix Stage Company, 686 Rubber Ave., Naugatuck, July 21, 27, and 28 and August 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. and July 22 and 29 at 2 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit www.phoenixstagecompany.org.