It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! Review

By this point in my life I should have watched It’s a Wonderful Life, I mean who hasn’t right? Well to no ones surprise it would be me. What can I say life is busy and the idea of sitting down and watching TV has never really had any appeal. So to my surprise I had an opportunity to be invited to the American Blues Theater and watch a live reading of an american classic.

With reviews from Chris Jones at the Chicago Tribune,  “…Kevin R. Kelly, the star of the ABT production, navigates this conundrum exceptionally well. Despite the complexities of being an actor (other than Stewart, presumably) playing George in a broadcast-within-a-play, Kelly is very much his own man, yet his work is still a clear homage to Stewart. I’ve seen Kelly do this part before, but he seemed Sunday to delve deeper into what truly is an iconic American character (and I write that knowing the word “iconic” is much overused). It was a performance striking in its familiarity, which is perhaps the ultimate compliment for this particular assignment, well executed. Some of Kelly’s scenes with Gwendolyn Whiteside, who plays Mary, are really quite wonderful. Intensely wonderful.” And Tony Adler over at the Chicago Reader, “…What can I say? The movie is a damned classic among classics. I know every line of it–and, more, every frame and inflection. As far as I’m concerned, that moment at the Bedford Falls train station–when Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey finally realizes he’ll never fulfill his dream of seeing the world–is film poetry right up there with the baby carriage in Battleship Potemkin. And yet American Blues Theater’s 90-minute stage version more than holds its own against any prejudice. It’s delightful.” I had to find out for myself once and for all what I was missing out on.

The cast instantly put everyone into the Christmas spirit by singing Christmas carols before the play that immediately transported you back to old Americana of the 50’s or 60’s. The commercial breaks took the audience into a humorous and interactive fun state when the cast read Christmas grams written by the audience. The reading brought so many emotions for me between heart warming thank you’s to parents, old lovers, and our troops for their service.

This show was uplifting, encouraging, and touching. The cast will have you on the verge of crying and will certainly make you laugh. I promise you my first tango with old american cult classics put a smile on my face.

The cast’s impressive change of characters with a slight infliction of their voice they transformed into children or old men and will have you on the edge of your seat.

I highly recommend this show to anyone that enjoys the holiday spirit and wants to dream of the possibility of things to come.

Well what is a wonderful life? It’s the conflict of dreams, the marrying of new ideas, being open to life’s constantly changing plans for one and being grateful along the way.

For ticket information and more information over this play visit American Blues Theater