Tonight I got to see what entertainment was like in the days before the Ipod and Dvd. American Blues Theatre presented the Frank Capra holiday classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The cast were dressed in period clothing as they transported the audience back to the days of radio, complete with a Foley artist. Tonight’s benefit was for the Lincoln Park Community Shelter, the Lynn Sage Foundation, and several veterans organizations including the USO. Before the performance, Whole Foods provided some delicious snacks. There was also a special display of memorabilia from the movie that has been collected through the years by Richard Goodson.
The ABT cast transported the audience with the help of some old radio recordings. Coincidentally, one of them was of my relative Bing Crosby on the radio. Before the show started, the actors also led the audience in a holiday sing a long. This led into the radio drama. Kevin R Kelly played the soulful and kind George Bailey with the same heart that the late Jimmy Stewart did. The scenes that he shared with Gwendolyn Whiteside as Mary were heartwarming and sweet. Gwendolyn played the ever supportive Mary and endeared herself to the audience. John Mohrlein showed his acting chops by playing the two very diverse roles of Clarence , the angel that is sent Earthbound to help George and the miserly Mr. Potter. He gave the audience someone to cheer for as well as to boo and hiss at the same time. This is indeed a difficult thing for an actor to do. Dara Cameron was absolutely charming as she played the Bailey little girl with a sweet childlike, innocence. A tear came to my eye when she uttered the famous line from the movie. “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” Shawn J Goudie used his talents to convey the feeling that the audience was listening to an authentic radio broadcast. The cast was rounded out with James Joseph, Zachary Kenney , and Michael Mahler, who provided the accompaniment for the show. I saw the show as a charming journey back to a time that I only heard my late parents talk about. It is hard to imagine in a day when books are on machines and phones can go anywhere, that people were entertained solely by listening to the radio and not even viewing the show . “It’s A Wonderful Life” runs until New Years Eve at the Biograph on Lincoln Avenue. So if you still want some of that holiday cheer for a little longer, come in from the cold and curl up by the old radio for an entertaining time.