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BWW Review: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY at Gamm Theatre

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Running through December 24th

BWW Review: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY at Gamm Theatre

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY.....a perfect time for a perfect holiday performance

As I sat among the packed crowd at the Gamm Theatre, watching IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY unfold, I thought to myself, there may be no better time for this big-hearted and endearingly classic performance then now. Right now. Nearly two years into this pandemic that has ravaged many of our lives, we watched a story of patience and perseverance, of friendship and love, anger and forgiveness, all of it that frankly mean more to us now than ever before.

Reprising his role from their 2019 version, Gamm Artistic Director Tony Estrella leads the cast as a humble and emotional George Bailey, the one we all want to yell at across the stage to leave Bedford Falls behind and never look back. However, he knows far more than we do. Estrella captivates the audience through humor, humility and grace, a performance that would make Jimmy Stewart proud. I found myself marveling at how he could change emotions so quickly, as is the life of a dreamer who once hoped to be anywhere but where he stood each day.

Lynsey Ford captivates with raw emotion as Mary Hatch with Jeff Church as Harry Bailey and a phenomenal Fred Sullivan Jr. as Henry Potter and especially as Clarence, both stealing scene after scene with incredibly humor and poignancy. Gamm newcomer Helena Tafuri makes for a wonderful Violet Bick and Richard Noble was a perfect fit as Billy Bailey and a number of other characters including Martini with Emily Turtle as the announcer and special role as Zuzu Bailey.

Rounding out the cast, and one I spent a great deal of time focusing on as I wondered how he could pull off these incredible sounds for the radio production was DJ Potter. From the sounds of footsteps to a storm surge, from splashing into the water to the sound of bells when angels get their wings, DJ Potter's role is pivotal to the play and everything in it. Even after the performance, dozens of people could not help but talk to him and commend his performance that wrapped everything up in a bow. (Audience goers should arrive early to see some Potter sounds in action where the cast lead the audience in Christmas Carols including the 12 Days of Christmas where Potter works some incredible magic you must see!)

Look, there's not much that hasn't been written about IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, arguably the greatest Christmas story ever told. This Gamm performance, which caused an instant standing ovation, hits the ground running and never looks back. Good luck finding a flaw because there isn't one; these actors clearly love each other-just seeing Fred Sullivan Jr. adjust the mike for the next scene featuring a much smaller Lynsey Ford, you can't help but notice the respect and admiration the cast has for each other and it shows in this marvelous performance.

Yes, I cried, as I often do with this story but it was a longer cry-that is how captivating this group is. In addition, like I started this review off, you cannot help but think throughout this play of your own life and the many hurdles you have faced, more so in the last two years than probably ever and it makes you realize how lucky we all are. Though it has not been easy, dammit, what we have is a wonderful life.

For tickets go to It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play | The Gamm Theatre | Warwick, RI

Patrons must show proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test and masks must be worn in the theatre at all times, despite your vaccination status.

Picture 1 caption: Photo by Peter Goldberg: L to R: Tony Estrella (George Bailey), Fred Sullivan, Jr. (Henry F. Potter/Clarence), Richard Noble (Joseph/Billy Bailey), Helena Tafuri (Violet Bick/Janie Bailey), Emily Turtle (Announcer/Zuzu Bailey)

Picture 2 caption: Photo by Peter Goldberg: L to R: Lynsey Ford (Mary Bailey), Tony Estrella (George Bailey)
Background: Richard Noble (Joseph/Billy Bailey), Helena Tafuri (Violet Bick/Janie Bailey)


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