Belated Encore 

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During his three decades in theater, including appearances in more than 150 productions, local actor Granville Scott has never played the same part twice -- until now. This year he was offered the lead role of Elwood P. Dowd in the Chamberlayne Actors Theatre production of "Harvey" (opening March 26).

While Scott has played Dowd before, you'll have to forgive him if the play's dialogue doesn't flow freely from his memory. His last stint in the role was as a senior at Collegiate School 33 years ago.

Jimmy Stewart immortalized the role of Dowd, a seemingly mentally ill man whose best friend is an invisible, 6-foot-tall bunny, in the play's 1950 screen adaptation. Though Scott was only a teenager, he was uniquely qualified to portray the character in the Collegiate production.

"My mother says I was born a little 40-year-old," he says. "Many of the roles I played in high school and college were crotchety old men."

Today, besides his graying hair, Scott brings a renewed vigor to the role. Though he stayed away from stage work in recent years because of debilitating arthritis, he was still able to land the occasional TV spot, with recent appearances on "A Haunting" and "The FBI Files" on the Discovery Channel. A knee replacement last year has Scott "walking a straight line for the first time in years," he says, and eager to get back to the boards.

His perspective on acting is informed by his full-time job as a project manager who works from home. "When I was in high school, theater was my escape from reality, from the anxiety of being a teenager," he says. "I spend most of my time now in a virtual world — working with people via e-mail and telephone calls. These days, theater is my escape to reality."

And who wouldn't enjoy a reality that includes an invisible 6-foot-tall bunny? S

"Harvey" plays at Chamberlayne Actors Theatre March 26-April 12. Tickets are $15. Call 262-9760 for reservations.

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