Confession: I have never once seen the movie It’s A Wonderful Life. When I have admitted this people react with the same incredulity that I associate with some sort of shocking personal revelation that calls into question my authenticity as an American; like “my parents were Russian spies”.
So when I finally got around to reading Joe Landry’s adaptation of this famous story, I was seeing something brand new. A story about personal discovery and reinvention; A story about finding the joy in the simplicity that comes with doing the right thing. A story about being in love with your family and having purpose, and that being fulfilling… and I totally “got it”.
Additionally, the whole show is told by actors in the format of a 1940’s era radio drama. Which means that it is the story that takes center stage and the need to replicate Bedford Falls, the fictional town in the story, can be a construct of the audience’s own imagination; the live sound effects enhancing both the story and the retro vibe.
Not having seen the movie has freed me to make the story simple and intimate- unencumbered by the performances in the iconic film. I often lose myself in moments in rehearsal considering the characters and story; I think about my wife and family, and do they know how much I appreciate and love them; I think about my friends and co-workers and do I reciprocate the support they give me each day; I think about my community and how grateful I am for the security I have to be myself and have a way to meaningfully contribute to its betterment…..
Then someone drops a cue and I immediately snap back into rehearsal/director mode.
I think it is perhaps to my benefit that I never saw the film. I say this personally, as I think its message would have been lost on me. As an adult, it has struck a chord, and I can see why people return to this story as a way of reconsidering the simple, but wonderful things that we take for granted.
Artistically, I am happy that we are able to offer this story in an innovative way that will give our audience a chance to hear it, literally, from a different perspective.
Finally, at this time of year, I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas; Happy Chanukah, a Festive Kwanzaa- however your celebrate… and that you and you and your family, your friends and loved ones will have experience peace, love, and happiness in the coming year.