By Marlene S. Gaylinn
“A Wonderful Life – The Musical” is adapted from the popular, Frank Capra film entitled, “It’s a Wonderful Life, ” which starred Jimmy Stewart. The original short story was entitled “The Greatest Gift,” by Philip Van Doren Stern. Sheldon Harnick (“Fiddler On The Roof”) partnered with Joe Raposo ("Sesame Street”) on re-creating thiis musical’s version, which is now in the public domain.
At Goodspeed Opera house, the film’s lofty morals remain intact. The message is that we each have a purpose in life and in this case, a role to fulfill for the common good of society. While the film has become a popular TV standard every year, it’s interesting that in 1947, the FBI considered it to be subversive, communist propaganda. And yet, its wishful, altruistic message still hits home considering the recent banking scandals.
At Goodspeed Opera House, Parker Esse directs a well-polished, professional cast and Michael Perlman, who was greatly responsible for the dances and the success of Goodspeed's "Fiddler on The Roof," is the choreographer. Although the lively and colorful choreography is in the 1920’s through 1945 styles,this production calls for comparatively few dance numbers. Despite this restriction, Perlman’s unique and spectacular “Heaven/Wings” scene is definitely a showstopper.
Duke Lafoon, who recently played Billy Clinton in "Clinton: the Musical" (off Broadway) effectively plays the dissolution young man who has lost faith in humanity (Jimmy Stewart’s film role). Ed Dixon, who is also a credible, Broadway actor, is just as outstanding as the greedy, exploitive banker. The comical, guiding angels are Frank Vlastnik and George McDaniel.
If you’re in the mood for fantasy with a serious message, plus a bit of comedy mixed in, this warm-hearted family show is for you.
Extended to December 3 Tickets: 860-873-8668