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It's a Wonderful Life is a movie about a good man who is in some troubling circumstances. Just when George Bailey, the main character is at the end of his ropes, Clarence, an angel sent from heaven, shows him what people’s lives would be like if he weren't born and George realizes that he has a lot to live for. The Arlington Theater's December 18th evening production of It's a Wonderful Life is a theatrical adaptation of the classic film and did an excellent job of capturing the original charm that can be found in the movie version. The Arlington Theater succeeded in its goal of satisfying the audience largely because exceptional performances by many of the actors who performed in the play. The three most notable performances were William Kledas who played George Bailey, Scott Kimball who played Mr. Potter, and Harry Liston who played Uncle Billy.
One of the reasons why the play succeeded in entertaining its audience was because the main character of the play, George Bailey, was such a relatable and charismatic character. William Kledas certainly did a good job making the audience actually care for George and to be genuinely concerned for his well being and what would happen to him. The scene in which George gives his classic lassoing the moon speech brought laughter and smiles to everybody in the theater, and in contrast to that moment, the scene where George was about to jump of the bridge to try and kill himself had everybody in the theater at a standstill. William Kledas really did a good job of helping the play succeed by providing the play with main character that the audience wanted to see win his battle.
In contrast to William Kledas’s loveable portrayal of George Bailey, Scott Kimball did an excellent job of playing the sinister Mr. Potter. The facial expressions that Kimball exhibited to portray Potter's sour demeanor were perfect. His facial expressions were over exaggerated but not overdone which made potter one of the most memorable characters of the night. The contrast between Potter and George Bailey gave the play more depth and made the play a better experience for the audience.
Harry Linston, who played Uncle Billy, also had a performance that made the play worth watching to the audience. Linston did an excellent job of playing a flustered old man especially during the part of the play in which Uncle Billy lost George’s company's money. The back and forth between a flustered Uncle Billy and a very frustrated George Bailey was very intense and was the turning point of the play in which the play went from a light hearted detailing of George’s life to a tense ride in which Clarence needed to convince George that life was worth living. The mannerisms that Linston displayed during this scene were perfect for his character and really conveyed to the audience that Uncle Billy was incredibly anxious and sorry old man who knew the gravity of the mistake that he had made. The tone of Uncle Billy's voice really let the audience know that Uncle Billy was a lesser man to George Bailey.
The Arlington Theater's Sunday December 18th performance of It’s a Wonderful Life was a very wonderful one indeed. This was undoubtedly due to a number of spectacular performances the most notable ones being William Kledas’s portrayal of George Baily, Scott Kimballs portrayal of Mr. Potter and Harry Linston's portrayal of Uncle Billy. These and the rest of the cast really did a great job of giving their audience a great show.
The UMD students put together an entertaining performance of It’s a Wonderful Life, a live radio play by Joe Landry. This production is a classic humorous play that is perfect for this holiday season.
It starts out on a radio set in 1940, which performs a live radio play shortly after Freddie Filmore; played by Thomas Matthes, greets and informs the live radio listeners about what they should will be experiencing for the night. Throughout this play the audience learns about one character in particular during the radio show, George Bailey played by Paul LaNave. Throughout the play, the audience learns about all the important events and people in Bailey’s life. One very important person the audience gets to meet includes Mary, his future wife played by Emily Fletcher.
Each actor plays a role for the show and also uses their different voices to show the dissimilarity between characters for the live radio broadcasting show. The actors nailed their impersonations and character roles.
Several actors played numerous roles, which they did different impersonations for. Each character was humorous and captivated the audience, each hilariously and believably well done. Minimal props were also used to make sure people weren’t confused by which character is which.
It’s a Wonderful Life is an intriguing play that involves a live radio broadcasting station, it takes place in Duluth, MN. They include Fitgers Brewery and National Bank of Commerce as the sponsors for their radio station who also are the productions sponsors. In the very beginning the audience is told to be loud and applaud if they feel like it, especially when the “Applaud” light flickers on the back wall. The director used several clever ways of using sponsors in the show and getting the audience to be active.
The production starts off with a not so formal beginning of the cast standing around talking, later to find out this is part of the play and not them just goofing around. The beginning of the play takes awhile to get interesting, but once the audience gets past this they are in for a surprisingly good production. As the play goes on and the live radio broadcasting starts the audience soon realizes the story line begins with Clarence the angel, who watches Bailey’s life progress.
Viewers learn about Bailey’s life and see him grow from a child into a family man with four children and married to Mary. With short intermissions of the radio show the play jumps back to reality where the radio broadcasters and members chat and take time for a commercial break. This short intermission for the radio station however does not mean the play had stopped at all! It keeps going talking about sponsors and a minute to sing a holiday song to thank them and give the radio listeners something to listen to.
The costumes were what anyone would expect for a production based in this period of time. The costumes are important for this play so the audience doesn’t get confused with who is who. Many actors found themselves not necessarily changing costumes, but adding onto. Some actors simply put on a hat or glasses to be a different character, one character in particular was actually in a wheelchair and this is the most costume this play had. The costumes were not anything out of the ordinary, boys wore suits and women dresses, just as if it were the 1940’s.
One actor in particular is in charge of the sound effects for the whole production. This person is used very much in the radio show of Bailey’s life. Since listeners who are supposedly at their house cannot see what is going on the sound effects include all sorts of bizarre sounds. From the door slamming to angel wing sounds and or bells chiming, this small effect puts in a bit of humor to bring the production more life.
The members for this production in charge of lighting could not have done a better job. The colors and differences between the play It’s a Wonderful Life and the radio broadcasting show is shown by different colors and they way they change. The backdrop fills with vibrant colors, but a run down house is built right before it looking very dark and old for the Bailey’s house. The lighting fills the stage and changes with life events that Bailey may be experiencing. Once the radio show takes a break, so does the lighting effects having the so normal lights come on and the special color effects are off.
When the radio show broadcasting station comes to an end, snow starts to fall. The audience starts to realize the production is also ending, but the radio show ends and goes back to reality. At the radio station the members gather around to say happy holidays and Filmore concludes the night. The cast members go through their voices and list off the characters they played, a highlight of the play that lets the production end hilariously. The ending is very casual and once the play is ended just like the beginning the actors stand around and casually talks as the audience may leave. The ending is very casual just like the beginning of the play and ends with the cast members yet again standing around conversing.
A bittersweet play, It’s a Wonderful Life is a must see for this holiday season. The audience learns why it is important to appreciate all the things in your life whether they are big or small. The audience will laugh along with this production and feel for the characters, as well as seeing such a well-done performance by the UMD students.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on December 19, 2011 11:47 AM.
Plaid Tidings - Chanhassen Dinner Theatre was the previous entry in this blog.
The Estate - Olurombi Theater Company is the next entry in this blog.
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