It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! | Stage 773 | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge James Joseph, Ian Paul Custer, Gwendolyn Whiteside, Zach Kenney, and Dara Cameron in It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!

James Joseph, Ian Paul Custer, Gwendolyn Whiteside, Zach Kenney, and Dara Cameron in It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!

Michael Brosilow

When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 6 2018
Price: $19-$49
Bedford Falls is an idyllic small town in this staged "radio play" version of Frank Capra's 1946 movie. Idyllic, at least, until George Bailey—middle-aged president of the local building and loan, faithful husband, and father of four—has a night of the soul so dark that angelic intervention is required to keep him from killing himself. American Blues Theater has made the 90-minute piece an annual holiday staple, complete with commercial jingles and candy cane prizes, without letting it dull out into ritual. I was especially aware this year of the intimate tones Gwendolyn Whiteside's Mary uses toward George at crucial moments, suggesting in a way not even Donna Reed did in the original that the pair aren't just teammates in marriage but lovers. (Whiteside will be replaced by Camille Robinson as of December 20.) Zach Kenney creates his own, entirely believable George, John Mohrlein makes a weary villain of rich old Potter, and the easy command of music director Michael Mahler is quietly astonishing. —Tony Adler

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