Review submitted by Sarah Bourgeois of Westfield High School.
A brightly glowing spirit ascends from the heavens at the prayers of an entire town for one man. He’s alone, clinging to the railing of a bridge and peering over the edge as he begins to swing one leg over and then the other. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” the ethereal being whispers, revealing himself as the man’s guardian angel as he whisks him away to show him what a truly wonderful life it is in Poolesville High School’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The 1946 American Christmas film of the same name inspired It’s a Wonderful Life to be adapted for the stage by James W. Rodgers. The original story by Philip Van Doren Stern follows the Great Depression era in the eyes of George Bailey, from the moment he considers giving up to a flashback of events that lead him to that point. Clarence, his guardian angel, opens his eyes to all the good that he’s done and all the lives he’s improved, from his clients to his wife.
John Foster effectively captured the evolution of George Bailey. Portraying unspeakable kindness and joy as he gave money to the clients of his Loan and Build company in a time of need was commendable in its execution. Foster’s immeasurably wide smile provided a great contrast to the weight of his frown as he prayed for help in a heart-wrenching monologue as his life crumbled before him. Young love bloomed at the work of Calley Mullin, who portrayed George’s wife, Mary. As they walked together after a school dance, singing an upbeat tune and throwing rocks at the window of an abandoned house, Mullins and Foster connected with a genuine infatuation with one another. As their relationship evolved into marriage and parenthood, the couple matured and exemplified a heartfelt reunion when Foster returned home after his prayer had been answered. As they embraced the audience softened admiring their love.
The townspeople displayed a unified ensemble while maintaining individual personalities. While scrambling for their money at Bailey Bro’s Build and Loan, some uttered a squeamish “oh my god” while others stood calmly and demanded their money. This made for a cohesive ensemble with enticing characters littered throughout the group.
As rocks shattered windows, the sound cues of Riley Georgins, Julian Comyo, and Marvin Kipchumba played at precisely the right moment. The effect itself imitated the exact noise of a shattering window pane. The accuracy of the sound cues enhanced the overall presence of the show as it added a sense of realism.
As his youngest daughter says “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings,” George Bailey’s gleaming smile returns, making for a long overdue Christmas miracle that warms the hearts of the audience of Poolesville High School’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life. “
The performance reviewed was from Saturday, 12/01/2018.
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