It's a Wonderful Life Theatrical Performance 12.12.07

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) has long since taken its rightful place as America's favorite Christmas movie--and one of our family movies at Christmastime.

Early yesterday morning, our local COOL homeschooling families went and saw Richard Rose's Stage Adaptation of the Frank Capra movie of It’s A Wonderful Life performed by Bend Experimental Art Theatre (BEAT) 34 gifted young artists (in two casts) in association with The Tower Theatre Foundation. The show was directed by our very own Mary Kilpatrick and Brad Thompson. Integration of intricate sets, talented musicians, and a versatile cast created a charming and all-around entertaining performance. Representative of the area’s younger talent showcased their captivating storytelling abilities and kept the audience laughing with comedic scripts throughout the acts. They were sincere, professional on the part of keeping in line with the original theatrical script; however, as an afterthought, I personally wouldn't recommended it to younger children under 8 and those haven't seen the original film. (There were a few lines I actually didn't remember from the original film.)

When I first saw James Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life in my high school years, I've seen how young George Bailey has changed the lives of a few people in the “crummy little town” of Bedford Falls. He prevented his boss Mr. Gower from accidentally poisoning a customer and also saved his brother Harry from drowning.

I soon met the adult George who wants to leave Bedford Falls to go travelling the world. He never fulfilled this dream and instead took over the Building & Loan company following the death of his father.

A series of events led George to the brink of suicide and an encounter with a wingless angel called Clarence. In order to get his wings, Clarence showed George what life would’ve been like in Bedford Falls had he never been born. His brother drowned so wasn’t around to save the crew of a ship during World War II and Mr. Gower became the town bum after poisoning a young customer.

So what is it that dh and I enjoy about Stewart’s performance in the film year after year? The actor gave us a wide range of emotions from when we first saw him trying to buy a suitcase, to when we saw him with his family and friends at the end of the film. Surprising to think that he never took a single acting lesson, believing people could only learn to act through working at the profession rather than studying it.

Stewart was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his part in the film, but lost out to Fredric March, for his performance in Best Years of Our Lives. This may have had something to do with It’s A Wonderful Life not doing so well on its initial theatrical release. It received many mixed reviews and has since become more popular through TV broadcasts and availability on home video & DVD. Like many of the Laurel & Hardy pictures, a colorized version of the film has been released, which is just wrong!

If you’ve never seen a James Stewart film, both It’s A Wonderful Life and Harvey (1950) are great places to start although I’d rate It’s A Wonderful Life as the better of the two. I honestly say that had I never seen the film, I probably still wouldn’t have seen any of Stewart’s films even today.

Next time you’re stuck for a film to watch, pay a visit to Bedford Falls. Not just a wonderful life, but a wonderful performance too!

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True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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