Some of the classic Christmas
stories never die. "It's a Wonderful Life" is one of
them. Even though the dialogue is a bit dated and the ending a
tad schmaltzy, we still love inspirational stories; we like to
think that good people get rewarded, and we'd like to believe
that someone "up there" is looking out for us. The
guardian angel legend still has many takers.
Sunset Playhouse's return to
the play that it previously presented three years ago is a
testament to its abiding appeal. Though the story is the same,
different actors add their special touches to the final
This year, Randall Anderson,
Ruth Arnell and Stuart Kendall play key roles as George and
Mary Bailey and the greedy Mr. Potter.
Anderson captures the
sincerity, the intensity, the compassion and the agonizing
soul-searching of George, and Arnell the loving optimism and
brightness of Mary, his supportive wife.
Kendall's wicked laugh
definitively proves that Potter is the bad guy. Don Callan as
bumbling Uncle Billy, Sarah Tullberg as Violet and Richard
Wenzel as the guardian angel also make their minor roles
A large cast of over 30 actors,
including many children, also contribute to the recreation of
this Christmas story. The costume designer, Ellen Kozak, adds
beauty, color and authenticity to the styles of the 1940s. The
sound designers, Jan Pritzl and Mark Salentine, also put us
back in time.
The set is very flexible and
fluid. Using moving flats and projected images, the scene
changes are smooth and varied. Michael Desper has worked his
magic again. The elevated bridge can also be seen as an
out-of-this-world place where one can achieve a different
perspective, one where we might see our lives as a whole
rather than just its components. It definitely adds a
dimension to the stage and to the story.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we
could see how our lives are affecting the lives of others?
This speculation intrigues us and gets us thinking, another
value and appeal of this story.
Although it was nominated for
five Academy Awards, the 1946 film starring Jimmy Stewart and
Donna Reed never received any awards.
However, over the years it has
gained in popularity and is now considered one of the top 100
best movies ever made.
Then in 1993, the film was
revised for the stage and has been a staple for community
theaters ever since.
The Sunset audience loved it. I'm
sure you will, too. Directed by Salentine, this is his last
production at Sunset and he will be missed.