With Pasadena Theatre Company's presentation of "It's a Wonderful Life," President Sharon Steele makes an impressive directing debut.
The show, in its second incarnation, has become PTC's answer to productions of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" by Chesapeake Music Hall and Colonial Players.
Steele has assembled a fine cast for this adaptation of the 1946 movie classic, compiled a marvelous soundtrack that enhances the drama and managed seamless transition to move the actors through the intimate Humanities Recital Hall at Anne Arundel Community College and draw in the audience.
The music plays a major role in the opening scene when the voices of God and St. Peter are heard urging second-class angel Clarence Odbody to earn his wings by going to Earth to help George Bailey, the banker of Bedford Falls who is having a crisis of conscience because of one mistake.
Veteran actor Marty Hayes delivers a performance worthy of special acting wings as Clarence the loveable angel, who talks George out of committing suicide by reminding him how much he has contributed to his community and how much his wife and children love him.
Mike Davis, a relative newcomer at PTC, gives a convincing performance as George, and Stephanie Nevin makes her PTC debut as his wife, Mary, charmingly conveying her character's level-headed discipline and warmth.
As with the productions of Dickens' masterpiece, some PTC players from previous years are reprising their roles.
Chuck Dick returns to give a powerful portrayal of Henry Potter, a ruthless businessman who owns most of Bedford Falls. Tony Anzalone is back as Mr. Gower, the drugstore proprietor whose drinking might have created more of a problem had not young George intervened. And Lauran Taylor returns as Violet Peterson, the ambitious small-town vamp.
Another outstanding supporting actor is Keith Thompson, who plays Uncle Billy, a character almost as bumbling and loveable as Clarence.
The soundtrack comes into play again at the end as we hear the voice of James Stewart, so identified with the movie role of
George, reading the biblical Christmas story as the actors freeze on stage.
"It's a Wonderful Life" is a welcome addition to the season's entertainment with perhaps more relevance to many of us than Dickens' "Christmas Carol."
Pub Date: 12/10/98