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BWW Review: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE at MPAC Gets You Ready for the Holidays!

BWW Review: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE at MPAC Gets You Ready for the Holidays!

The holidays are upon us and with it we have the pleasure of being surrounded by the looks and sounds of the season. Our local theatres are doing their part by presenting some memorable holiday tales. I have made it a point this year to delve into the holiday season and make it one full of joy so what could bring one more inner happiness than by seeing "It's a Wonderful Life?" Manatee Performing Arts Center is performing the story that will warm your heart.

Based of the 1946 film of the same name, "It's a Wonderful Life" is the story of George Bailey who has committed to do good for the world. However, on this Christmas Eve he has given up hope on humanity and his own life with the intent to end it. His guardian angel, Clarence is sent to Earth to prevent the tragedy and restore George's faith in his purpose for living.

Bradley Keville does a stellar job playing this iconic character. He offers a simplicity to his character. Keville makes George inner kindness evident throughout and as an audience member you begin to think how nice it would be if we all had the good-will that George Bailey displays to others.

Mary Hatch Bailey, played by Shannon Wright, Clarence (Jim Olson) and Mark Eichorn (Henry Potter) are perfect compliments to George Bailey's triumphs and struggles. These actors all help to paint a perfect picture for the audience of the world of George Bailey. Each one is meticulous in their interactions to help bring the story to life.

The biggest issue lies in the script and score itself. There isn't a song in the show that is truly memorable. Musicals should elicit emotion and unfortunately, this story doesn't provide those musical moments. Unlike the screen version, the story really lags at times. On this particular night there were also several sound issues. I think we have all been there and those moments make you feel bad for the cast and crew. However, what dissipates all of the above is the cast just makes you smile. They took inadequacies beyond their control and displayed a true passion and love for performing.

Director Kelly Burnette did a magnificent job of bringing a cohesiveness to her cast which ultimately translated into a production that touched the hearts and minds of so many. It is the holiday season and we all need to take the time to be joyful and reflect on all that is good with our lives. "it's a Wonderful Life" reminds us that even in our darkest hour there is love out there and that love should be are focus. This message of hope is why this show is a great way to kick off your holidays this year.

"It's a Wonderful Life" runs through December 22. Tickets and more information can be found at

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