Sunday, November 04, 2007

Making 'A Wonderful Life'

These are surely some odd days, as 2007 starts to dwindle away and 2008 begins to stir and make noises, alerting us to the year ahead. As much as I enjoy the Halloween holiday (see last week's posts!), when it ends, the nation tends to sprint ahead to Christmas and New Year's. You'd think I would get used to that. I am not used to it, though.

The race to end the year is now somewhat complicated for me. I am currently directing the local community theatre production of "It's A Wonderful Life", adapted for the stage from Frank Capra's classic movie. I jumped at the chance to direct this show - I love Capra's movies, and "Wonderful Life" is a fine mix of comedy and drama, wrapped in a bittersweet holiday package as poor George Bailey contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve.

In short, recent days have been full of efforts to create Bedford Falls on the stage and rehearsals with a most excellent cast. I've made some staging and design decisions which will hopefully bring George's dilemma to life, but I don't really want to reveal them here. I'd rather you just come see the show, if you can, which opens November 30 and runs through Dec. 16. Details about getting tickets and reservations to this Morristown Theatre Guild production are right here.

I do want to express my profound appreciation for the Guild, now in it's 73rd season and prepping it's 74th season. Working with them to provide theatrical experiences for the community makes me smile a wide, wide grin. Words of thanks are due as well to several members of their Board, to the cast and crew, and all those who are working hard to bring Capra's story to life. I first began working with the Guild in the late 1980s, and such work has provided me with a vast amount of memory and experience whose value is far greater than can ever be estimated.

A great part of Capra's movies and "Wonderful Life" in particular center on the struggle between meeting economic needs and meeting spiritual ones, between business and family, and the fierce struggle within the hearts of the Everyman depicted by such characters as John Doe, Mr. Smith and George Bailey. In fact, for George Bailey, locating the "lost" bank deposit to his save his company from ruin ultimately means so very much less than finding the fallen flower petals given to him by his child Zuzu.

Something which this production has reminded me is that the constant machinations of bad men, typified by the nefarious and heartless Mr. Potter, seldom slack away. Bad men are forever doing bad things which might distort any community into an ugly slouching beast, steadily dragging us into oblivion and darkness.

The efforts to refute the plans of bad men begin and flourish in the hearts of good men and women, one person at a time, efforts which then are shared with others who likewise decide to cherish and hold dear those intangible and vital elements which make up what is truly important in life.

Starry-eyed idealism? Perhaps. But perhaps instead such ideas form the basis of a better world for all of us.


  1. Okay, this is where I'm giving you a warm hug from hundreds of miles away because dammit, this makes me happy.

    And so do you!


  2. Joe, who's in the show?

  3. Rachel -

    click the link to the Guild in the post and the cast list is there under auditions. there's a heap of folks in it, some new to the Guild, some not. I'll have more on the play in a new post soon!!