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"It's A Wonderful Life"

Scott Lenoir (right) as Mr. Gower, the druggist, gives Young George Bailey, played by Christopher Hayman, a hard time when he does not deliver the right medicine. The scene is one of the most poignant in "It's a Wonderful Life."

DSC's Holiday production is "It's A Wonderful Life."

Opening THURSDAY, 07 DECEMBER 2000 at 7:30 p.m. at Jake and Freda Stein Hall ~ Bass Cultural Center, Greenville. Continued Friday & Saturday, ending with a 2:30 p.m. matinee Sunday.

We at DCS welcome the holiday season with a classic Christmas story. Getting in the spirit of Christmas will be easy when Delta audiences are treated to one of the most popular and heartwarming plays ever staged.

“It’s A Wonderful Life,” opens Thursday, Dec. 7 and runs through Dec. 9 with curtain at 7:30 p.m. There will be a Sunday matinee on Dec. 10 at 2:30 p.m. in the Jake and Freda Stein Hall of the Bass Cultural Center.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 students and may be purchased at Dattel & Co., Wells-Lott Village Pharmacy, McCormick Book Inn, Tecinfo in Leland, Hunter’s Pharmacy in Lake Village and at the door each night prior to production.

Long regarded by many as the definitive Christmas movie,“It’s A Wonderful Life” tells the tale of a man whose life is recognized as being wonderful and truly rich after he suffers through many hardships and trials. The hero is George Bailey, played by Michael Sherman.

George is a man who never quite makes it out of his quiet birthplace of Bedford Falls. As a young man he dreams of shaking the dust from his shoes and traveling to far-off lands, but one thing and then another keep him at home — especially his responsibility to the family savings and loan association, which is the only thing standing between Bedford Falls and the greed of Mr. Potter, played by Bill Downs, the avaricious local banker.

Bill Payne (right) as Uncle Billy, tries to reassure customers at the Bedford Falls Savings and Loan in this scene from "It's a Wonderful Life." Other characters are (from left) Mike Elrod as Mr. Welch, Bradley Davis as the newspaper boy and Helen Evans as Mrs. Welch.

George marries his high school sweet- heart (Maria Sherman), settles down to raise a family, and helps half the poor folks in town buy homes where they can raise their own. Then, when George’s ab- sentminded uncle (Bill Payne) misplaces some bank funds during the Christmas season, it looks as if the evil Potter will have his way after all.

George loses hope and turns mean. He despairs, and is standing on a bridge contemplating suicide when an Angel 2nd Class named Clarence (Rodrick Shannon) saves him and shows him what life in Bedford Falls would have been like without him.

Frank Capra never intended “It’s a Wonderful Life” to be pigeonholed as a “Christmas picture.” This was the first movie he made after returning from service in World War II, and he wanted it to be special — a celebration of the lives and dreams of America’s ordinary citizens, who tried the best they could to do the right thing by themselves and their neighbors.

After becoming Hollywood’s poet of the common man in the 1930s with an extraordinary series of populist parables (“It Happened One Night,” “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “You Can’t Take It With You”), Capra found the idea for It’s a Wonderful Life” in a story by Philip Van Doren Stern that had been gathering dust on studio shelves. For Stewart, also recently back in civilian clothes, the movie was a chance to work again with Capra, for whom he had played Mr. Smith.

The original trailer for the movie (included on the Criterion disk) played up the love angle between Stewart and Donna Reed and played down the message — but the movie was not a box office hit, and was all but forgotten before the public domain prints began to make their rounds.

Marie Sherman is Mary Bailey and Michael Sherman is George Bailey in the Delta Center Stage production of "It's a Wonderful Life" which opens Dec. 7 for four performances

“It’s A Wonderful Life” is not just a heart-warming “message picture.” The conclusion of the film makes such an impact that some of the earlier scenes may be overlooked — such as the slapstick comedy of the high school hop, where the dance floor opens over a swimming pool, and Stewart and Reed accidentally jitterbug right into the water. (The covered pool was not a set but actually existed at Hollywood High School).

There’s also the drama of George rescuing his younger brother from a fall through the ice, and the scene where Donna Reed loses her bathrobe and Stewart ends up talking to the shrubbery. The telephone scene — where an angry Stewart and Reed find themselves helplessly drawn toward each other — is wonderfully romantically charged. And the darker later passages have an elemental power, as the drunken George Bailey staggers through a town he wants to hate, and then revisits it through the help of a gentle angel. Even the corniest scenes in the movie — those galaxies that wink while the heavens consult on George’s fate — work because they are so disarmingly simple. A more sophisticated approach might have seemed labored.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” did little for Frank Capra’s postwar career, and indeed he never regained the box office magic that he had during the 1930s. Such later films as “State of the Union” (1948) and “Pocketful of Miracles” (1961) have the Capra touch but not the magic, and the director did not make another feature after 1961. But he remained hale and hearty until a stroke slowed him in the late 1980s; and he died in 1991.

The cast includes Michael Sherman, Maria Sherman, Rodrick Shannon, Bill Downs, Bill Payne, Nicole Newsom, Jeff Ma, Gina Spadafore, Angelique Newsom, Marguerite Sherman, Camille Davis, Christopher Hayman, Scott Lenoir, Bradley Davis, Cory Cunningham, Tim Latham, Miller King, Jimmy Pearson, Tucker Gore, Jonathan Jarett, Tam Lee, Carolyn Hall Hunter, Abby Kinnebrew, Margaret Hines, Mark DiBiase, Carolyn Michelle Hunter, Brittany Jelks, Alison Kinnebrew, Stephanie Brooks, Lauren DeLap, JoAnne Henry, Kristen Brooks, Gwen Kinnebrew, Priscilla Duke, Kelsey Kinnebrew, Thomas Sherman, Michael Hayman, Anna Hayman, Mike Elrod, Helen Evans, Julie Evans, Jeanette Johnson, and Brantley Newsom.

Director: Robby Scucchi
Assistant Directors: Beth Downs & Ann Kinnebrew
Musical Director: JoAnne Henry
Set Design: Robby Scucchi
Lights: Tim Bixler, Richard Lovings
Sound: Tim Bailey, Rick Byler
Set Construction: Warren Harper and Crew
Stage Manager: Mike Elrod
Stage Crew: Roxanne Hayman
Tickets: Joy DeLap
Props: Sherrie Russell
Make-up: Castlen Tindall
Website: Will Chipman
Publicity: Kelli Miller, Robby Scucchi, Bill Downs, Mike Elrod
Posters and Programs: Charlene Louwerens, Robby Scucchi
Costumes: Mary Frances Maxey, Deanna Harper, Sonya Bixler, Cast

Text & Photos by Robby Scucchi
Copyright © 2000 The Delta Democrat Times.

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