Theatre Mirror Reviews - "It's A Wonderful Life"

"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"It's A Wonderful Life"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bay Colony's current show is the traditional holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life". It's a series of vignettes which tells the story of George Bailey, a good man who stumbles upon some difficult times and in an act of true desperation, is offered the chance to learn the value of his own life by his guardian angel, Clarence. George finds out that "no man is a failure who has friends." For years his family run business, The Bailey Brothers Building and Loan had been an asset to the small community of Bedford Falls, offering loans to ordinary people of good character when the regular bank wouldn't consider them. However it has been a thorn in the side of the nasty and mean Mr. Potter, who wants to control all commerce in town. The defeat of this insidious creature is wonderful to behold and director Dori Bryan molds her large cast into these characters of the past so beautifully, mixing the joyous and tragic moments together so at the close of the show the audience rises to its feet to cheer George Bailey's success at realizing that it is a wonderful life after all.

Dori who is a topnotch choreographer, shows she is a talented director, too. Her choice of music and casting of these roles is excellent and the poignant moments come to life under her firm hand. The show will leave you in tears at the appropriate moments. Dori gets to choreograph the energetic Charleston number in the school dance scene. The gorgeous costumes and numerous sets are by Daniel Kozar while the marvelous lighting is by Mike Teixiera and sound by Ed DiMarzio and the multitude of props is by Gail Gilman. The most outstanding actor in the show is Donald DeBerardinis as the older George Bailey. He wins the hearts of the audience with his acting prowess and commands the stage in all his scenes. Not far behind him in acting talent is Tyler Appel as the younger George who tugs at your heartstrings when he saves the local druggist from accidentally poisoning a young boy with the wrong medication. Only in 7th grade and appearing in his third show, Tyler annunciates his lines and projects them like an old pro.

Another winning performance is given by Bill Cunningham as Clarence, the angel who finally wins his wings by saving George's life. With his hair dyed blond and using a wonderful Irish brogue, he capture this whimsical character perfectly. Another perfect performance is by Paul Warner as the despicable Henry Potter. He is so evil and horrible in this role that I had to boo him as the worst villain around at curtain call because his performance was very convincing. Laura Brooks shines as George's true love, Mary and Kathryn Eno is good as a trampy girl who has her eye on George. (Kaitlyn Buscone and Rachel Sewell play these roles as young girls and are a hoot in their roles.) Another dynamic performer is Doug Macaskill as Joseph the hot headed bartender who doesn't recognize George after he wishes he had never been born. Chas Kircher is great as George's younger brother Harry and Jeremy Anuform and Bill Castro play Bert and Ernie wonderfully, too. The biggest scene stealers in the show are Colette Ferguson as Annie, the Bailey's maid and Nathan Lamont as Mr Martini. She delivers her many one liners beautifully and she shows off her fantastic singing voice with Amazing Grace while he is a hoot as the foreign friend of George's. So for a wonderful alternative to Christmas Carol, be sure to catch "It's A Wonderful Life" in Foxboro. You won't be disappointed.

"It's A Wonderful Life" (2 - 18 December)
The Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA
1 (508)543-2787

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide