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Interview with Harvey Evans

How often do you get to chat with a cast member of one of your favorite movies from your childhood? Most people never get that opportunity, but that's exactly what I did. I couldn't wait to ask Harvey about his experience in the classic motion picture Mary Poppins. He shared some memories from those days, and also highlights of his 44 years in show business.

NR: Tell me where you grew up.

HE: Cincinnati, Ohio.

NR: I understand that you went to high school with Ron Bohmer's father.

HE: Yes, I did. We graduated the same year, 1955.

NR: That's so cool! Did you ever keep in touch at all? Did you know Ron when he was little?

HE: Oh yeah, we kept in touch! No I didn't know Ron. I didn't know Ron until we did Sunset Boulevard together and he introduced himself to me and said that I graduated with his father, which was a shock. (laughs)

NR: That's really nice though. When did you decide you wanted to perform?

HE: Before I knew what was happening. My mom and dad, for some reason, said I was shy when I was really young, like three or four, and they put me into dancing school - tap dancing school. I guess I picked it up fast. I had this little partner, Patsy Heffron, and we'd go out on the weekends and do shows at the Elks, or the Masonic, or the Eagles, or the Workhouse, or something, and would get paid five dollars. So I grew up as a kid performing, thinking that was the norm. I didn't think it was anything special. I thought that every kid did that. And then, if we were good, our parents would take us to the Chili Parlor (Cincinnati's got great chili), and then they'd go to some saloon and have a nice drinking evening, and we'd play in the back room of the saloon. So that was my childhood.

Then early on, Song of Norway came through Cincinnati, and I saw my first Broadway show. I immediately thought, "That's it! That's what I want to be." I didn't think "God, I want to be a star." I didn't want to be in the movies. I just wanted to be in a Broadway show. And I would stay at the stage door and watch them all come out, just so awestruck by it. So as early on as I can remember, I just planned on coming to New York and being in a Broadway show.

NR: Since you took it so in stride, I guess you didn't have stage parents.

HE: No, they weren't at all. No, they were just fun, fun parents.

NR: That's great. They didn't discourage you?

HE: Not at all. I didn't know why they put me in dancing school. That's curious because they're not musical, they're not from the arts, or anything like that. I would take show albums home that my art teacher would lend me, and they'd say "Turn that off!" I remember Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, I would play it so loud, and they'd say "Turn that off!"

NR: "Go listen to Rock and Roll like the other kids!" (laughs)

HE: They were very, very supportive. Incredibly supportive. They said, "You have a choice. Here's a thousand bucks; go to New York, or you can go to college. You can do whatever you want with it, but we want you to go to New York and try." And within three months, I got into the road company, the national company of Damn Yankees.

NR: Has this career been everything you hoped it would be?

HE: I guess I would have to answer, "Yes." Yeah, there have been ups and downs like any life, but I'm totally devoted to the theater. I love it. I'm happiest when I'm here.

NR: What do you like most about it?

HE: Oh God, many things. I love to perform! There's nothing like getting a laugh! Just nothing. It's the greatest thing in the world, to get a laugh. And to know that you're making people happy, as corny as it sounds. I love the community of the theater. I think actors are remarkable people. Even though we might be children, we're remarkable people. The comradery and the community is amazing as witnessed by Broadway Cares, all the Easter Bonnet things. I'm so proud to be a part of that for this many years. And to have worked and stuck it out for this many years.


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Interview conducted and photographs by Nancy Rosati.




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