Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'It's a Wonderful Life' Will Play like the Movie Classic

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'It's a Wonderful Life' Will Play like the Movie Classic

Article excerpt


The holiday season has arrived and so have the seasonal productions at area community theaters. Players by the Sea will present the holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life, which will open Friday, Nov. 30, on the Jacksonville Beach community theater's main stage.

Directed by Bob Pritchard, the play by James Rodgers is based on the memorable Christmas film by Frank Capra. The story has become a holiday favorite since the movie's release in 1946. Pritchard said this stage version will embrace the same tone and spirit as the movie.

"What I have discovered is that when people come to see this show, they want to see a story that is just like the movie," Pritchard said. "So that is what we're going to give them."

Pritchard has directed It's a Wonderful Life twice before while he was at the helm of the now defunct Jacksonville Stage Co. Unlike some adaptations, this play's dialogue is picked up almost directly from the movie. Although he didn't want to share specific details, Pritchard is staging the show in such a way that will give people the feeling that they are watching the movie again.

Since the movie has been so popular for many years, many are familiar with its story. Set in the small community of Bedford Falls, George Bailey fears that his life has been a failure and he is ready to end it all on Christmas Eve. Clarence, an angel trying to earn his wings, takes George in hand and shows him that the help he has given others throughout his life has made a real difference. Clarence shows George the love and respect he has earned are worth far more than monetary riches. George is reunited with his family and Clarence earns his wings.

Pritchard has assembled a 28-member cast that includes many well-known local actors as well as some newcomers. While this is Pritchard's third time directing this show, there is only one actor, Redgie Gutshall as Mr. Potter, who was cast prior to auditions. Gutshall played the same role in Pritchard's previous two productions.

"We had open auditions and all of these wonderful people showed up," Pritchard said. "There are so many really great people in this show. …

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