By Bonnie Goldberg

    What if you felt your life had no meaning, that everyone would be better off if you’d never been born?  What if you were prepared to jump off a bridge and end it all?  Would you be as lucky as George Bailey of Bedford Falls on Christmas Eve in 1945 and have your guardian angel Clarence appear just in time to stop you from doing something irrevocable?

    What would Christmas be without a retelling of the magical story of hope and redemption that is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” from the film by Frank Capra, story by Philip Van Dorn Stern and stage adaptation by James W. Rodgers.  A musical version of this holiday classic has been beautifully mounted by the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday, December 21.

    A distraught George Bailey, brought to agonizingly realistic life by Chris Solimene, is on a bridge ready to jump and end it all, because his bank has lost deposits totaling $8000, not an inconsiderable sum sixty years ago.  His guardian angel Clarence (Todd Little), a second class angel who has yet to earn his wings, appears just in time to stop him and make him question his desperate plan of action.

    If George jumps, he would leave behind a loving wife Mary (Amy D. Forbes) and four children, his mother (Divinna Schmitt), his Uncle Billy (George Lombardo), his brother Harry (Ryan Zanoni) and a whole passel of town folks who love and respect him.  The only resident of Bedford Falls who would help George over the bridge railing is Henry Potter (Donald Shirer) who has control of most of the town but wants it all.  How Clarence convinces George of his true worth, and what the town would be like without him, is at the pulsing heart of this play.  John Sebastian DeNicola provides both the direction and the musical direction admirably.

    For tickets ($25, students $20, children $15), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at ; Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

    Watch how George gets a revelation not unlike Scrooge’s as this story of faith reveals once again that a man who has friends is not a failure in life.

This will appear in the Middletown Press on December 18.

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