Gather up the family and invite your friends, coworkers and neighbours to come experience the true spirit of Christmas at Lunchbox Theatre’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life. Presented as a radio play from the 1940s this production is a fun, energetic and inventive retelling of the classic story.
The Lunchbox production features an outstanding cast, brilliant direction, a beautiful set and an amazing mix of sound – both recorded and created live – to bring the story of George Bailey and the town of Bedford Falls to life.
I give it two thumbs up. Although I went to see the play with my sister, her husband, my niece, her boyfriend, and his mom and we all gave it two thumbs up so that’s twelve thumbs, right? How can you argue with twelve thumbs? That’s got to be as good as, if not better than, four stars or five sugarplums.
It’s a Wonderful Life asks the question: Does your life matter? Can one man or woman make a difference?
I think there’s a fundamental human need to live a meaningful life. When we reach the end we want to feel, in some way, that we’ve made a difference – that we’ve made the world a better place.
But of course sometimes when we face a crisis in our life we feel lost. We feel like nothing matters. We feel like we don’t have a friend in the world, and if you’ve ever felt like that then you can relate to George Bailey as he stands on a bridge thinking about jumping into the icy waters below and ending it all.
Luckily for George he has a guardian angel. An angel named Clarence. And Clarence shows George what the town of Bedford Falls would be like had George never been born. Let’s just say that George made a big difference in the lives of a lot of people.
That’s the story in a chestnut shell and the Lunchbox Theatre production does an amazing job of telling that story. I love the fact that we’re transported back to a Christmas Eve in the 1940s to hear and be a part of a “live” radio broadcast.
The production stars a talented and versatile cast that includes:
- Kevin Rothery as Freddie Filmore playing Clarence & others
- Devon Dubnyk as Jake Laurents playing George Bailey
- Arielle Rombough as Sally Applewhite playing Mary Hatch
- Katherine Fadum as Lana Sherwood playing Violet Bick & others
- Andy Curtis as Harry Heywood playing Uncle Billy & Others
- Connor Pritchard as the Studio Assistant Edward Irvine
The entire ensemble captures beautifully the feel and energy of a live radio show while bringing humour and warmth to a classic Christmas story.
And if you like Vertigo Theatre then you’ll be familiar with Craig Hall and his inventive staging of noir thrillers from the 40s and 50s. His affinity for that time period shines in this production and even though it’s a “radio play” there’s never a dull moment. The actors are kept moving as they participate in creating the story and jumping from character to character.
The script is an adaptation of the original 1946 film written and directed by Frank Capra and starring Jimmy Stewart. And even though this version of the story is less than half the length of the movie playwright Joe Landry manages to skillfully keep much of the plot without losing any of the heart of the original film.
The costumes by Deitra Kalyn and the set and the lighting design by Anton de Groot only add to the nostalgia and drama of the story.
And the sound design by Aidan Lytton – much of it created live on stage by Connor Pritchard and the rest of the cast – is a marvel to watch and experience because – as this production proves – you can build an entire world with sound. You can be transported to any time or place. And the Lunchbox Production of It’s a Wonderful Life not only transports us to Bedford Falls but it takes us on a journey where we are reminded about the truly important things in life and the real spirit of Christmas. Go see it.
It’s a Wonderful Life @ Lunchbox Theatre
- November 28 to December 21st
- Showtimes Monday to Saturday @ 12:00 noon
- Thursday & Friday @ 6:00 pm
- Tickets: $25.00 for adults and $20.00 for Seniors and Students.
- Purchase tickets at the Lunchbox Theatre web site or by calling the box office.
After you see the show you can help spread the word by Tweeting about it, sharing an update to Facebook, posting about it on Instagram or writing a blog post. At the end of every Lunchbox Theatre Show the cast poses for photographs so you can add a photo to your social media shares. It’s a great idea and one that more theatre’s should be doing. Here’s my photo from when I saw the play:
Make a donation to Lunchbox
You can also make a donation to Lunchbox when you’re at the theatre and be entered to win a prize package worth over $2,000.00! You can give any amount of money: five dollars, twenty dollars, two thousand dollars. You just put your donation – cash or cheque into an envelope and drop it in the donation box or you can do debit or credit at the box office and your name will be added to the draw. And if you donate $25.oo or more you get a charitable tax receipt. The draw takes place December 23rd and your prize package includes but is not limited to:
- tickets to ATP, Storybook Theatre, Vertigo Theatre, Theatre Calgary, Dave Kelly Live and Stage West
- passes to Heritage Park, Calaway Park and The Calgary Tower
- a gift certificate to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse as well as dinner for four and a custom whiskey tasting at One18 Empire
- Flames vs Minnesota Wild tickets and $100 in PetroCanada Gas Cards.
Now wouldn’t that make a fantastic Christmas Gift!
And one final thought, that I have contemplated long and often on many a Christmas eve as I’ve sat waiting for Santa to arrive: Why on earth did George and his wife Mary name their daughter Zuzu?