It’s Never Too Early for IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

by Lesley Grigg

Halloween has recently come and gone. We’ve already had our first snow fall of the season. We might as well start decking the halls now, right? Let’s not get carried away just yet. We still have football to watch, turkeys to carve, and parades to enjoy. Also, let’s not forget one of the most important lessons of the upcoming holiday, to give thanks.

The Bailey Family: Mary (Danielle Malat), George (Rush Laughry), Zuzu (Ava Smith) (Front:) Tommy (Brendan Miller), Janie (Faith-Iris MacIlvaine) and Pete (Billy Ambrose).

Even though IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is set during the Christmas season, its message still rings true for this time of year: Give thanks for friends, family, and what a truly wonderful life you’re leading. Town and Country Players kicked off this holiday season with a true classic, but it wouldn’t be fair to compare it to the widely popular movie with the same title.

Opening night is rarely graced with a glitch-free performance. The idea to start the play with a behind-the-scenes trailer may have seemed like a good one at first, but with the technical difficulties that accompanied it, it was hardly worth it. It would have been just as fresh and festive to start with the cherub-like children that caroled their way on and off the stage, dressed in their Christmas best, circa 1945. Other lighting issues throughout the show created awkward pauses, and a few dropped lines meant lost momentum in dramatic scenes, but all in all, the theme was clear.

We all know the story. A distraught George Bailey (Rush Laughry) thinks he has nothing left to live for when his guardian wingless angel, Clarence Odbody (Stuart Wyss-LeClair) is sent to show him otherwise. Laughry showed great range from his wide-eyed dreaming to his desperation. Wyss-LeClair did a fine job narrating and consoling poor George’s lost soul, although it would have been nice to see more of the scenes unfold than just being told about them. Nevertheless, we’re taken back through George’s past to see how he’s done so much for friends and family, including saving his brother Harry (Robert Noll) and Mr. Gower (Tom Harrelson), but this is still not enough to convince George of his good fortune.

Then we meet young Mary Hatch (Danielle Malat), so sweet and innocent and taken with George’s big dreams that she’s willing to stand by him and try to save him from himself. Malat complemented Laughry nicely with her softness and subtle wit, but it wasn’t enough charm to calm George down when forgetful Uncle Billy’s (Tom McFarland) actions force George to turn to the one man who can break him, Mr. Potter (Ken Weigert). Both Billy and Tilly (McFarland and Sarah LeClair) brought the lovable Uncle and Aunt to life in both the good times and the bad. Weigert played the Bedford Scrooge well enough to be booed during his curtain call.

Each member of the cast did their part to add to this drama and the holiday spirit it inspired. So before we all run out to start checking gifts off our lists, let’s not forget to give thanks for the things that truly matter.

by Dr. James W. Rodgers
Directed by Annamarie Hughes
November 4-19, 2011
Town and Country Players
4158 York Rd
Buckingham, PA

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