by Margaretha Heidel
(photos by Joe Epstein)
Everyone could use an angel.
We have all had those days where nothing is going right, and dark thoughts come into play. We consider, “Why am I here?” or, “What am I doing, really?” This is where an angel at your side would be especially helpful.
And this is where you really understand the point of “It’s a Wonderful Life”—playing now through December 18th at the Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken.
George Bailey gets the best kind of angel in Clarence (special agent, 2nd class) and so do we. Clarence, amusingly played by Patrick Massey, hasn’t gotten his wings yet and desperately wants them. George Bailey is his chance, but before he can intervene, he has to do his homework. With Clarence, we get to see George Bailey from childhood through young adulthood to the “present-day” 1940’s, sacrificing all the way for his friends, family and for years, his not so beloved Bedford Falls.
The show is different from the classic movie, in that it’s presented in the form of a radio play being perfomed by actors in a sound studio. The mood is set perfectly as we see the sound guy testing the sound effects and the actors preparing for the show and saying hello to one another. Then, by simply hearing in a hushed tone… ”It’s Christmas Eve.”, the lighting follows, and we are immersed in the life of a bygone era.
Each of these marvelous actors on stage are assuming the role of the radio actors, while at the same time playing multiple parts of “It’s a Wonderful Life” for a Christmas Eve broadcast. Watching the actors go back and forth between their roles is amazing and we can’t go without mentioning Joel Van Liew’s despicable Potter and Michelle David’s sweet, sad Violet. Matt Bitner rounded out the ensemble with fantastic sound effects and a spot-on baby along with composing the wonderful singing commercials for local Hoboken businesses, which provided breaks in the piece.
The cast as a whole just oozes talent from that stage. Led by the perfectly suited Maggie Weston as Mary and Grayden Long as George, I found myself wishing for an even larger venue for them to be able to project all those high emotions. Despite this, or maybe because of, the audience felt glued to what was being portrayed here. The show had wonderful development following George’s path, so that toward the end you want to save him yourself. Hats off to Mark Cirnigliaro for the deft direction.
This show is for everyone and should be dedicated as such. It’s a victory for the regular guy—for the good guy in all of us. Thank you Joe Landry, for reminding us to believe that there is Good in Sacrifice.
Let us all look to give this season and throughout the year. You can start by coming to Mile Square Theatre and being genuinely inspired. Get your tickets now for the whole family—you’ll not regret it!