Lauralton Hall brings 'The Harvey Girls' to stage

Lauralton Hall’s annual student-directed play this year will be “The Harvey Girls” by Julie Jensen, about Fred Harvey's famous Harvey House waitresses.

This year’s director is Mary McMullen, of Stamford. The production is entirely student run and includes duties such as choosing the show, casting, props, costumes and keeping the entire cast focused during the eight hours of after-school rehearsal a week.

Fred Harvey pushed his chain of restaurants farther and farther west along the lengthening tracks of the Santa Fe. He brought with him one of the first civilizing forces this land had known — the Harvey Girls.

As the story unfolds, it's an ordinary day at the Harvey House Restaurant along the Santa Fe Railroad in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The six people on the staff of the restaurant are engaged in their usual struggles and ordinary duties. Mary wants to run things because she's smarter than the others. Effie takes her on at every turn. Whistle, a young native girl, thinks the white people talk too much and eat entirely too much. Miss Mecham wants them all to remember that women with jobs are much better off than women with children. Bachmann, the German chef, makes rules that few people follow. Then word reaches the restaurant that there's a fugitive woman roaming around town, having been a part of a train holdup earlier that morning. Mary is terrified, Whistle oblivious, and Effie so curious that when she meets the armed woman, she invites her to apply for a job as a Harvey Girl.

As director, McMullen has her hands full, school officials said. She works with her group of students including her assistant director, Hope Hottois, of Monroe, lighting and sound crews and stage crews, and the actors themselves to bring this 1946 play to life.

“This is a lot of work but so worth it,” McMullen said. “I love being the director on this play because it is a great way to work together, form friendships, respect each other and bond while producing something we are all very proud of.”

The production will premier Friday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m., with additional showings Saturday, Feb. 6, at 2 and 7 p.m.. (Snow date Sunday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m.). The play will take place at Lauralton Hall’s Claven Auditorium, 200 High St, Milford. Tickets will be available at the door - $10 general admission and $7 for students and senior citizens. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door. Refreshments will be sold at intermission.