It’s a Wonderful Life was produced and directed by Frank Capra in 1946. It was inspired by the 1939 short story “The Greatest Gift” written by Philip Van Doren Stern. When it was first released, the film was considered a failure. It didn’t bring in the crowds necessary to offset the large production costs. However, over the years, it proved to be one of the most beloved American movies of all time. For many families across the nation, it is traditional to watch the film together every Christmas season. And it is showing at the Gilbert Theater Nov. 26-Dec. 18.
This season, the Gilbert Theater brings this American holiday classic to life on the stage. This is a unique opportunity, in part due to the theater’s facilities. The Gilbert Theater is a black box theater, which means the distance between the performers and the audience members is very small. For a show like this, it makes the performance feel not only real but also incredibly personal. All in a way that a television set can never accomplish. “This is a classic film and a well-loved story. It’s a tradition for many to watch the film annually during the holiday season. We seek to capture the essence of the film and make the audience feel as though they are at home watching the characters come to life before their eyes,” Artistic Director Robyne Parrish said.
It’s a Wonderful Life centers on the story of George Bailey. His self-sacrifice has driven him to the verge of suicide. His desperation brings about his guardian angel. The guardian angel shows George his value by showing him how life would be if he had not been born. The Gilbert Theater presents this story in a very classic interpretation. “This story is about finding one’s true self,” Parrish said. “It is about redemption and hope. It is a modern-day Scrooge tale. I think we can all identify with it on some level. Many of us experience feeling as though we are not loved or not needed. It takes faith and a little bit of magic to see the truth.”
While Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time, it can be emotionally tumultuous. George’s struggle and emotional distress are relatable. “I identify with George, absolutely. His struggle to find his identity in a world that he feels has sometimes let him down is palpable,” said Parrish. “The blessings he ultimately finds in friends and family rings so true for me and many others.” It is this representation of classic human struggle that is why this story remains so popular today.
It’s a Wonderful Life tackles some big themes and difficult issues, but it is still accessible and appropriate for young viewers. These lessons are ones that can’t be learned too early. Life isn’t always easy or simple, but everyone has value and should be appreciated. “It’s a family-friendly show with a strong message of love and togetherness,” said Parrish. “Particularly in this time of political unrest. This story brings folks together no matter what their political passions or walks of life.”
For tickets and information, visit http://www.gilberttheater.com or call the box office at 678-7186.