Center Stage: ‘A Wonderful Life’ at Broadway Palm
“A Wonderful Life” is Broadway Palm’s 170th production, and the annual tribute to this holiday season. This beloved cinematic masterpiece comes to life on the Palm’s main stage, and turns out to be a delightful family musical, glowing with the spirit of the Christmas season.
For anyone that has managed to make their way through life without seeing “It’s A Wonderful Life” the Frank Capra movie, here’s a brief synopsis:
One Christmas Eve, a bumbling, wayward, and as yet wingless angel, second class named Clarence (the cherubic, winning Jerry Sciarrio) is selected to go on a lifesaving mission, by Superintendent Angel Matthew (rich voiced Rendell De Bose) as the heavenly choice to save the life and help a suicidal George Bailey (Jorden Goodsell) a man of unrealized dreams, discover the treasures and values of family, friends and even life itself.
If Clarence can concentrate long enough and prove these values to George, he will have earned not only his place in the heavenly host, but also earn his beloved wings. As George stands on the town railroad track contemplating suicide; Clarence takes George through his life to date, his wish to leave Bedford Falls, the war, his family, his successes, and failures. Armed with this knowledge, Clarence descends to earth to show George just what a positive impact George has made on his friends, family and community. Audiences will experience laughter, as well as tears, as both Clarence and George go for their goals, amidst mirthful comedy, heart tugging sentiment, and toe tapping period songs, as well as book by Sheldon Harnick, of Fiddler On the Roof Fame, with music by Joe Raposo.
The unforgettable folks of Bedford Falls N.Y. come to life by the terrific ensemble cast on the stage in this homesy, folksy, tribute to a beloved American tale.
With very little in the way of massive sets or technical trickery to razzle dazzle this production under the deft direction of Paul Bernier, choreography Amy Marie McCleary, scenic design Evan Adamson, has very little to hide behind and relies heavily on the abilities of the excellent cast, and what a spot on, enthused and energized one it is. Jordan Goodsell does a creditable job with George, making him both believable and likeable, Katherine Walker is equally believable as Mary his ever faithful, helpmate and wife, along with the rest of the Baileys brother Tom (Mark Inbody), Mom Bailey (M L Graham), Uncle Billy (Michael Weaver) including George and Mary’s adorable little threesome.
The children are played by an alternating cast of young actors: Beth Bailey – Avery King, Maddie Megip and Megan Salerno; Tommy Bailey – Kaiden Dick, Harvey Evans and Nicholas Salerno and Zuzu Bailey – Rilyn Dick, Chloe Engh and Sophia Gibson.
I’m not sure who was playing opening night, but the three youngsters were grand. As were the whole passel of Baileys. Mention must be made of “the heavy” of this story, Harry Potter played to the villainous hilt by Kirk Lawrence. Lawrence not only made him the dishonest and menacing millionaire, but earned strong audience applause after his key scene damning George Bailey for not accepting his final offer. Lawrence was wonderful, as well as deserving of his kudos.
So truth be told “A Wonderful Life” provides everything you want from a festive production. There are laughs, the odd misty eyed moments, some Christmas tunes and a whole lot of good cheer. So now Ho! Ho! Ho! yourselves over to the nearest phone and call the box office at (239) 278-4422 for your reservation to “A Wonderful Life” playing till Dec. 26. Remember when you phone to remind ’em Marsha sent you. And now go and have yourselves a Merry Little Christmas, to you and yours, Cheers Marsha.