Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review of American Blues Theater's It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called It's a Wonderful Life. This is a radio play of It's a Wonderful Life, the movie. This is different from just watching the movie because it is actually in color and they add live ads that they speak into the microphones that are actually for things that you can just walk out of the theater and do it, like Insomnia Cookies, probably the best cookie place on earth, right across the street from the theater. Everybody but George Bailey (Kevin R. Kelly) plays more than one part. I think that they did a very nice job of making them play completely different types of characters. It is fun to see them change characters immediately. I think this show should be for ages 6 and up. Some five years olds could see it if they are okay with a lot of romance talk.

I really liked the characters Ernie (Ian Paul Custer) and Bert (John Mohrlein). They were awesome because they were really funny. They were perfect for the parts of Ernie and Bert and I thought that it was really funny how they looked like Ernie and Bert in the movie, but also in Sesame Street. I loved how when they came on as the characters you really knew that they were Bert and Ernie because they were chatting and trying to look cool, like cab drivers and cops do. I really liked how when George and Mary (Gwendolyn Whiteside) came back from their wedding, Bert and Ernie were singing this song together and they were singing it in a really funny way. They were singing "I love you truly, my dear!"

The person who played Bert also played Clarence, which I thought was cool because cop and angel are not exactly the same thing. And he also played Mr. Potter who is the bad guy. I thought that was a cool decision to let us be able to see what that actor looks like as three completely different parts. I think that he was good at all of the different parts that he had to play even though they were so different.

I really liked the part where Uncle Billy (James Joseph) was drunk and he fell into garbage cans and he said, "I'm all right! I'm all right!" He seems like a funny, hilarious drunk. It is not always funny when people drink, but when Uncle Billy drinks he is the most hilarious drunk. When Uncle Billy loses the money you feel really sad for him because Uncle Billy is a really nice guy. Everybody was really angry with him because they thought that he had just gone out and bought a candy bar and gave them all the money because he was just stupid. But really Mr. Potter wanted everybody to think that George stole the money and was horrible.

The sound effects (by Shawn Goudie) I thought were pretty cool because they used things they actually use in radio plays. Like when they closed the door they didn't just go off stage and slam a door, they had a door that they could slam right there that was small and that people could carry. The smoking, how they actually lit a match, was really cool because you saw the light flicker and then it was gone. Even though George was just sucking on a pencil, the sound effects made it seem like he was actually smoking a cigar. There was a little bar on stage where you could see all the sound effect equipment.

The scene where George and Mary fell in love was a very nice scene I thought because they got telephone cups and were listening to Sam Wainwright (Michael Mahler) on the telephone together. That is so nice because they had to both listen so they were practically kissing and I thought that was funny because they basically fell in love by talking to someone on the phone together. Earlier in the scene, the mother (Denice Mahler) is upstairs when George comes to visit Mary. She says, "What is George Bailey doing down there?" And then Mary says, "He's making violent love to me, Mother!" Even though he is just sitting in a chair. I thought that that was really funny.

There was this part where George Bailey came home and all his kids were running around everywhere. Then there was this moment where the youngest kid said, "Excuse me!" and then he said, "Excuse you for what?" and the kid said, "I burped." I think they should have made that moment longer instead of making the lines very quick. That would have made more people laugh. The problem with adults playing little kids is that they don't seem like kids because they aren't kids. I think that the woman who played Zuzu (Denice Mahler) did a good job on whispering her line, "I want to look at my flower." But it made it funnier to have an adult be the kid because that is not what happens in the movie. I think it made it funnier instead of touching or bittersweet. That I think is okay, but I think I prefer bittersweet or touching.

People who would like this show are people who like angels, phone romance, and hilarious drunks. People should go see this show because it is funny and anybody who likes the movie would love this show. It makes you feel like you are a fancy person in the 1940s.

Photos: Johnny Knight

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