Mr. Houseful and I went out for a night on the town to see a stage play of an old holiday favorite of so many, It’s A Wonderful Life. I’m going to go ahead and confess something (again) right now. I still haven’t seen It’s A Wonderful Life all the way through. I made this confession in 2015, but I still haven’t rectified it. Maybe this week. Maybe not. I always come in when George Bailey is coming back home after seeing how life is in Bedford Falls without his birth. If It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! is any indication, I may just be a-ok with that. Playing until January 4, 2020, you need to RUN and purchase your tickets before they leave until next holiday season.
This isn’t our first time seeing this company perform this, but it is our first seeing some of the actors. Four of the actors were in the same production (and some have been for the entire running) when we saw it last, but they still managed to bring a freshness to it as if they were performing for the first time. With 18 years of bringing Bedford Falls to the stage for residents, you would think that this holiday tradition would get stale like the passed around fruit cake that no one in your family desires, except it doesn’t. It is continually served up with warmth and just as much passion as I assume they had for the opening year.
When we arrived we were seated a little before the start of the live radio broadcast and given audiograms to fill out to be read on stage in between scenes. This year, I happened to have one read out loud that Mr. Houseful had written, and it gave me the warm fuzzies. Those warm and fuzzy feelings turned into deep emotional ones as we came upon the scene in which Clarence the angel shows George Bailey what Bedford Falls would look like had he not been born. Maybe I’m still full of emotion about the loss of my brother, but my eyes were brimming with tears, and I was dangerously close to letting them fall.
The audience was captivated the entire 90 minutes of the performance, and we all oohed and aahed where it was necessary. I will say that this play is absolutely perfect for the family, and can make a great tradition for outings. Even with larger extended families because it just brings everything together in just the right way. Like the holiday season should.
You would think that one person voicing several characters would be confusing, but it’s not. The actors make sure to continue the flow of each scene as if the stage is filled with every actor or actress in the film. The Foley handled all of the sound effects perfectly. From door slams to the familiar noises you hear sitting at the dinner table, or in a bar. It was all wonderfully done.
I recommend It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! for everyone, and I’m pretty sure you’ll see me talking about it again next year. It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! takes place at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. Tickets prices start at $19 and special performances are available, just check American Blues Theater’s website before purchase.