It’s A Wonderful Life
By Christina Sajdak Lucchesi
The Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove was host to a rather sedate house Saturday night as it presented James W. Rodgers’ adaptation of the Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life. Theater-goers braved the cold this opening weekend, but a story notorious for its warmth, did not, in this rendition, inspire enough to thaw out the chilly audience.
The production, in keeping with the tenor of the film, sets the story in the 1940s, with costumes and set pieces well-chosen and appropriate to the era. Unfortunately, the multi-functional backdrop, modern in concept, sacrifices authenticity for convenience and tends to distract from the overall visual theme.
Although some of the smaller roles were portrayed with reservation and in some cases self-consciousness, the leads and the actors in several secondary roles were spectacular. Ryan Spiering, portrayed the young, wide-eyed George Bailey and his older, beleaguered counterpart to perfection evoking compassion with every gesture, word and expression. Eamonn O’Neill’s interpretation of Mr. Potter, hard-hearted town villain, was impeccable. Charles Hanel as Clarence Oddbody was charming and cherubic. Scott Allen with very little stage time brought Mr. Gower to the fore with the depth and thoughtfulness of his performance. Kara Roeming in her deft portrayal of Mary Bailey exuded the character’s quiet strength, selflessness and irrepressible good cheer in the face of difficulty. She is entirely believable as the instrument that ultimately elicits these traits from the citizens of an entire town.
In Howard Bashinski’s Director’s Notes audiences are reminded of the importance of family and community and the virtue of charity so abundantly demonstrated in this story. What better time to re-instill in our lives these bedrock social principles and what better inspiration for doing so than the timeless story from Bedford Falls.
The Sunset Playhouse presents It’s A Wonderful Life through December 31st. 262-782-4430 or www.sunsetplayhouse.com.