BWW Review: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE brought 2018 to a great close at Greenville Little Theatre
A couple of weeks ago I saw - with the full intention of writing a review - Greenville Little Theatre's heartwarming production of It's A Wonderful Life. But it was the height of the holiday season and what with this, that, and the other, I find it's now almost new year's eve and I've yet to find time to actually write a review.
Best laid plans, etc.
About a week after seeing the play, my family and I watched the original film. My son, about an hour in, declared it boring and went to bed. But I enjoyed it as I always have, and even choked up just a little at the end. Just like I did at the end of GLT's production. There's a power in the piece that, for me at least, continues to resonate after all these years, after all these viewings of both the movie and various stage productions. When it's done right, with care and love, it gets me every time.
GLT's new production was probably the best I've seen of the live versions. Craig Smith brought a different vibe to George Bailey, making the part his own rather than some sort of Jimmy Stewart echo. I also loved Robert Simms' crotchety old Potter and Jamie Ann Walters' warm and sympathetic Mary Bailey.
But credit mostly goes to director Suzanne McCalla for letting the show breathe, letting it be its own thing rather than simply a pastiche of the movie's best-remembered bits. To that end, she cast a delightful Latreshia Lilly as Clarice - rather than Clarence - Odbody, angel second class. It's a perfect update and Lilly brought a charming, scatterbrained energy to the part.
I also loved McCallas's simple yet versatile set, which again helped transform this well-known story into an engaging night of theatre.
The run ended on December 16 and from all reports it was sold out nearly every night. What a wonderful response to a wonderful show - and a great way to end 2018. For me, the show served as a terrific and much needed reminder that when you stay busy helping others, yours, too, will be a wonderful life.