Directed by Marty HigginbothamProduced by American Blues TheaterAt the Greenhouse Theatre It’s A Wonderful Life’s nostalgia still potent after 12 seasons as a radio play The folks at the American Blues Theater have been mounting their heartfelt and utterly charming production of It’s A Wonderful Life as a radio play for years – first at the former home at ATC and now in the main stage space at the Greenhouse Theater.The American Blues Theater’s production of the Capra classic holiday show is the definitive production to see. Others may imitate and do worthy productions, but I believe that ABT’s has so much warmth, terrific production values and wholly invested acting – that exudes so much goodwill and sparkle that it is a “must see” holiday show.The 2014 has the same dedicated cast as last year (with the exception of James Joseph now playing Uncle Billy).These polished actors play multiple characters with a simple twist of their bodies or a different vocal inflection. As I stated last year, Kevin R. Kelly, as George Bailey, and John Mohrlein, as Clarance and Mr. Potter, lead the talented cast in a spirited presentation of the radio play. The only thing lacking here is an actual broadcast on WGN or WFMT so thousands can enjoy this wonderful, tear-jerking show..SYNOPSIS: “Join the American Blues family as we take you back to a 1940s radio broadcast of Frank Capra’s holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with live Foley sound effects, an original score, and a stellar cast of eight that bring the entire town of Bedford Falls to life. From the moment you walk through the doors, you will be transported back to the Golden Age of Radio, and experience the story of George Bailey like never before. In addition to the heartwarming story performed, the production includes commercials from actual local sponsors, holiday carols, telegrams from the audience read live on stage by the cast, and the “Soldier Spotlight” tribute which honors one military personnel every performance. After the show, the entire audience is invited to join the cast and crew for milk and cookies.”From the moment you enter the theatre, you’re greeted by cast members who exude their holiday cheer as the make you welcome to the broadcast. The show’s warm up get everyone singing Christmas songs as the atmosphere of holiday spirit shines. The Golden Age of Radio makes fora winning event as the radio play comes to life with it’s worthy story. Here even the commercials are clever. The holidays are not complete without seeing this family-friendly morality tale that celebrates the human spirit.Highly RecommendedTom WilliamsTalk Theatre in Chicago podcastDate Reviewed: November 23, 2014For full show information, check out the It’s A Wonderful Life page at Theatre In Chicago.
At the Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, www.americanbluestheater.com, tickets $19-$49, Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2:30 pm, sone additional performances, running time is 90 minutes without an intermission, through December 28, 2014