A REVIEW

WARWICK — If you've got a Scrooge living in your house — or friends worn down by the news of the day — I've got just the ticket. And it is, literally, a ticket.

Buy tickets to "It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" — on stage through Christmas Eve at the Gamm Theatre in Warwick — and join your friends for a 90-plus-minute escape to Bedford Falls and watch as our old friend, George Bailey, journeys from despair to joy and is reminded of what really makes a person "the richest man in town."

I guarantee you'll not only help lift them out of their bah humbug blues but you, too, will be uplifted and will leave the theater in a much better place ... and probably even humming a Christmas tune.

It really matters not if you've seen the movie or play before, the Gamm's show is so fresh, new, and full of fine acting that even if you know every line by heart, or saw the 2019 version, you'll feel like this is the first time you're meeting George, ZuZu, Uncle Harry and mean old Mr. Potter.

Speaking of Mr. Potter, Fred Sullivan Jr., a familiar face at the Gamm (and on many Rhode Island stages) once again takes on the role famously played by Lionel Barrymore in Frank Capra's holiday movie classic. If you close your eyes, you'd think it was Mr. Barrymore himself. Sullivan, as always, is excellent, and not only makes a terrific mean guy, but a lovable good guy too. In addition to many "others" (like Bert and Mr. Welch), he plays George's guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody. 

Most of the cast members take on multiple roles, actually, and one outshines the next. Jeff "resident heartthrob" Church plays Harry Bailey and Ernie Bishop; Lynsey Ford plays Mary Hatch and Rose Bailey (and sings a gorgeous version of "Buffalo Gals"); Richard Noble plays Joseph and Bill Bailey; Helena Tafuri plays Violet Bick and Janie Bailey; and Emily Turtle, with her extraordinary vocals, plays the Announcer and (our much-loved) Zuzu Bailey.

But the sole role reserved for the Gamm's  artistic director is the role of George Bailey. And lest you think there is nobody who could play our hero as well as Jimmy Stewart, I give you Tony Estrella.  

Foley artist DJ Potter, who remains on stage throughout in his own busy little corner (the set is top-notch too!) will keep you entertained from start to finish with his extraordinary live sound effects.

Get there a little early to sing Christmas carols with the cast and to fill out a "WGAM Instant Message" form, and perhaps yours will be read live onstage by one of the cast members. At the show we attended, the entire cast sang a festive "Happy Birthday" to one lucky member of the audience.

Yes, it is a wonderful life, made all the more wonderful by live theater, great acting and a heartwarming story with the power to push us headlong into the holiday season. 

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