"IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE” IS, WELL, SIMPLY WONDERFUL
By Bonnie Goldberg
George Bailey is the reluctant iconic hero of one of the season’s most beloved stories. Whether you have known George Bailey for decades or you are a brand new acquaintance, New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” is filled with care and affection, thanks to playwright Joe Landry.
Until Saturday, December 31, you are invited to follow in George’s footsteps as he walks through his life in Bedford Falls, New York, an ordinary existence that he himself might describe as dull and without definition.
Created as a 1940’s radio show, on Station WBFR, for Playhouse on the Air, the story by Philip Van Doren was originally a Frank Capra movie starring Jimmy Stewart. Here a troupe of talented actors -- Dan Domingues, Kate Maccluggage, Alex Moggridge, Kevyn Morrow and Ariel Woodiwiss -- play multiple roles as they create George’s life, up to the moment when he decides it isn’t worth living and the world would be better off if he had never been born.
While Ebenezer Scrooge has his three ghostly visitations on Christmas Eve, George is blessed with only one: Clarence, an apprentice angel who is more than two centuries old and has yet to earn his wings. The hard-working and dependable George, who saves his brother Harry from drowning, stops a pharmacist from dispensing a prescription with poison, stands up to the town’s tyrant, helps a community live in homes rather than shacks and marries a fine woman and raises three children, learns that he is not a failure in life and that he has friends who bless him. Associate director Eric Ting creates a wonderful atmosphere on stage, where the terrific sound effects by foley artist Nathan Roberts are like another character.
For tickets ($52.75-72), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. Performances are Christmas week Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Christmas Eve at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and for New Year’s Eve week Monday at 7 p.m., Tuesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
In honor of the holiday season, Long Wharf is partnering with the Connecticut Food Bank and patrons are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate. Most desired items are tuna, peanut butter, soups, stews, pasta, beans, rice and canned fruits and vegetables.
Let your imagination soar as you listen to this tale of redemption and what it means to live a life of purpose.