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The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

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October 26, 2023

Hop into theater department’s ear-resistible fall production “Harvey”

The lights dim and in a horror-movie fashion the door creaks open. The open frame reveals…

Not a single person. Or rabbit. Only footsteps and a momentous closing indicates that something had opened the door. 

Unlike a typical movie, however, laughs follow. It is that energy of laughter that sets the tone for the rest of night as chuckles peppered Coppell High School’s Black Box Theatre time and time again. Along with the script’s plethora of jokes, the show’s flamboyant characters and detailed set design left the audience laughing, clapping and cheering.

Coppell High School junior Sanjana Sreemushta as Veta Louise Simmons greets sophomore Miyah Lampkin as Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet during “Harvey” in the Black Box Theatre on Sunday. The Cowboy Theatre Company performed “Harvey,” a tale of an imaginary rabbit, as its annual Fall play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (Minori Kunte)

“I could hear the gasps and laughs from backstage, and it was magical,” said sophomore Nadia Fox, who is cast as a swing. “It was a long show, but getting to hear people watch it and react for the first time was part of the magic of the show. It reminded me why I love this because although I was backstage, I was part of the production.”

This is the magic occuring during Coppell Theatre Company’s fall production of Mary Chase’s “Harvey” directed by Lisa Stucker and Grace Hellyer, which ran for three days this weekend from Oct. 6-8 in the Black Box Theatre. The show follows a very rigid schedule, with auditions occurring on Aug. 21 and rehearsals following until the production day. 

“At first I was scared because ‘Harvey’ is a three-act show and this is longer than a typical fall show,” said junior Sarvin Narang, who plays Elwood Dowd. “But it was a lot of fun. Our main schedule looked like two days of blocking and memorizing the rest on our own time. And then another two days of blocking and memorizing. After that, we got to run throughs. I really like how we set up the schedule because it was the most efficient way to do it in the time we had.”

The production follows two siblings – climbing socialite Veta Louise Simmons (junior Sanjana Sreemushta) and her eccentric brother Elwood P. Dowd (junior Sarvin Narang) – as they navigate life with Elwood’s imaginary best friend Harvey following the loss of their mother. 

Although the script is interesting, Narang feels like the rehearsal process is what brought the characters, and lack of, to life. 

“When I first read the script I was confused,” Narang said. “It takes you a lot of time to interpret Harvey because the comedy is in the craziness of the situation. So, when you’re reading it out on paper, you don’t understand it. When you start doing it physically, you start realizing where the funny moments are. The cast was also able to become friends, it became easier to depend on each other.”

After Veta’s party is ruined following Elwood’s introduction of “Harvey” to guests, Veta decides to admit him to a sanitarium. In a hilarious turn of events, Veta confesses that she can see Harvey to Dr. Lyman Sanderson (Sean Pompey) and is placed in the sanitarium instead. 

After Elwood is caught and put into the sanitarium, Veta interrupts the administering of Formula 997 intending to get rid of his hallucinations, claiming Elwood is perfect the way he is. 

The tightened schedule affects all aspects of the cast, and the technical aspects of the show is no exception.

Coppell High School juniors Sophie Caswell as Ruth Kelley, R.N. and Sean Pompey as Dr. Lyman Sanderson argue on the whereabouts of Elwood P. Dowd in Sunday’s performance of “Harvey” in the Black Box Theatre. The Cowboy Theatre Company performed “Harvey,” a tale of an imaginary rabbit, as its annual Fall play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (Minori Kunte)

“During class, we’d make the walls and platform,” said senior Andrew Harmon, assistant lighting designer. “This was one of the more involved sets we’ve done, and it turned out to be good despite the shortened time frame. We had to push the extravagant lifestyle with hand painted walls and luxurious furniture.”

The detailed lighting, set designs and costumes, however, bring a realism to the show precisely considered. Each rose on the wall of the set is hand painted, as well as a portrait of Elwood and Veta’s mother.

“This show is very realistic,” Harmon said. “The mom painting showed the features of both actors so they got eyes from Sanjana Sreemushta and Narang’s nose. We also chose a warm color palette and lighting for the house scenes. We showed contrast in the sanitarium scenes with white lights that hurt your head so it felt like it wasn’t a safe, friendly place.”

Nothing shows the message of the show better than the end, however, where Narang bows, holding the hand of his invisible friend, making the show what it is. If you squint your eyes hard enough, maybe you see the faint outline of two long ears. 

“Playing Elwood has made me realize that things don’t matter as much as we think they do so we should have fun in the moment,” Narang said. “No matter what, even if you don’t have a literal invisible friend, this show taught me we’re never alone. We always have people to depend on, and the show’s cast embraced that message.”

Follow Your Anushree De (@anushree_night) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.

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About the Contributors
Anushree De
Anushree De, Features Editor
Anushree De is a senior and the features editor of The Sidekick, where their passion for storytelling flourishes. Their favorite films, La La Land, Zootopia, and Everything Everywhere All at Once, resonate with creative optimism, mirroring her outlook on life. Born in Topeka, Kansas, Anushree embarked on a journey that ultimately led to finding her place in Coppell during second grade. The challenging transition from charter to public school shaped Anushree into the resilient individual they are today. In her spare time, Anushree immerses herself in the enchanting world of Spanish literature, relishing the perspectives it offers. As they have started their senior year, their advice to their younger self would simply be a hug, a reminder that growth is a journey worth embracing. Anushree finds comfort in taking walks in nature as a break from her busy schedule. You can contact her through [email protected] or on X (@anushree_night).
Minori Kunte
Minori Kunte, Staff Cartoonist
Minori Kunte is a junior and the staff cartoonist for The Sidekick. She spends her time singing for the Madrigals and A Capella. In her free time outside of school, she enjoys painting scenic locations she’s spotted and making vlogs of her vacations for herself and her family to watch. Her favorite movie of all time is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. She enjoys watching Anne With An E and The 100, while snacking on Brookside Acai Dark Chocolate and Skinny Pop. She feels inspired when looking at art made by Anna-Laura Sullivan and Bob Ross. You can contact her at [email protected]

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