Bernard Cuffling stars as Elwood P. Dowd who is best friends with a giant rabbit only he can see.
Bernard Cuffling stars as Elwood P. Dowd who is best friends with a giant rabbit only he can see.

For 25 years, Western Gold Theatre has been providing opportunities for actors over the age of 55. To kick-off its silver anniversary season, the Vancouver professional theatre company will present a staged reading of the comedy, Harvey.

“It’s a gift to work with actors who have long-standing careers and are like-minded in their commitment to telling the story to audiences,” says Western Gold’s artistic director, Anna Hagen, who will also direct this production.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning play, made famous by the 1950 film adaptation starring Jimmy Stewart, is the story of Elwood P. Dowd and his best friend, Harvey, a giant invisible rabbit. Introducing Harvey to everyone he meets, Elwood’s social-climbing sister, Veta, quickly finds his eccentric behavior embarrassing.

The Western Gold Production will star veteran Vancouver actor Bernard Cuffling as Elwood. Despite having been written almost 75-years ago, Cuffling says this classic American comedy provides an escape for audiences from the pressures of the real world.

“Elwood believes in a kind and caring world,” explains Cuffling. “We all wish we could be like Elwood and not take life so seriously.”

For director Anna Hagen, it is in how recognizable the characters in Harvey are to audiences, and how drawn they are to the giant rabbit.

“It is a wonderful comedy with a message of hope that despite our differences, all will be well,” she says. “A good message for these times, methinks.”

While a staged reading, in which actors perform with script-in- hand, the production is fully supported with sets, costumes and lighting.

“The best part of staged readings means that these beautiful plays can be done in a short rehearsal period, concentrating on the script, economically,” says Cuffling. “A full production would be too expensive to mount, and a play such as Harvey may never be seen again in Vancouver.”

Harvey plays the PAL Studio Theatre in Vancouver for five performances only, March 16-18. Visit for tickets and information.

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