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BWW Review: THIS WONDERFUL LIFE at Indiana Repertory Theatre

IRT Offers Virtual Production of This Wonderful Life

BWW Review: THIS WONDERFUL LIFE at Indiana Repertory Theatre

In 2008 the country was in the midst of a massive economic recession. That year the Indiana Repertory Theatre produced This Wonderful Life, a one-man show that celebrates the classic film, It's a Wonderful Life. It's appropriate that the theatre would return to that joyful play in 2020, a year that has been so heartbreaking. Never before have we so badly needed the reminder that family and friends are the most valuable part of our lives.

Rob Johansen plays the storyteller, recreating the movie with an exuberant performance. He single-handedly brings each character to life. In the blink of an eye, he switches from the evil Mr. Potter to the coquettish Violet. If you know the movie well, you can probably say many of the lines along with Johansen. It's almost a retelling, but with some added commentary about 1946 and the impact of certain scenes.

You can't recreate live theatre with a recorded performance, but the care that was put into the production is excellent. Benjamin Hanna's direction keeps the story flowing through the animated Johansen. Robert Koharchik created a set that allowed for plenty of movement to recreate scenes happening all over Bedford. Xavier Pierce's lighting design brings the angels to life and makes each moment with Mr. Potter particularly menacing. Despite the circumstances, the show demonstrates that true artists' work shines in any medium.

A note on the streaming experience. The show is $30 and you have a week to watch it. The IRT does a great job providing instructions to easily access the video. We had no problem logging in and playing it. The filming was a coordinated effort between the IRT and WFYI. It's filmed on an actual set at the theater, so you're able to get the full experience of seeing the show. You can purchase tickets at

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From This Author Melissa Hall