Chicago Street waxes 'Wonderful' nostalgia

2011-11-11T00:00:00Z Chicago Street waxes 'Wonderful' nostalgiaBy Tim Shellberg Times Correspondent
November 11, 2011 12:00 am  • 

To get to Bedford Falls for Valparaiso's Chicago Street Theatre's production of "It's a Wonderful Life," co–director Dona Henry made a stop in Arrow Rock, Mo.

Last November, Henry was in the audience for a production of the holiday favorite, this one set in a radio station for a re–enactment of the original 1940s radio interpretation.

"I loved how it was a play within a play, and that was as interesting as the story that they were presenting," she said. "And it's very nostalgic in the way that it's done."

Opening Nov. 18 and running through Dec. 17, Chicago Street's "Wonderful" production follows George Bailey and his struggles to find meaning for his life on Christmas Eve after suffering a series of setbacks and dilemmas.

A holiday classic first seen on the big screen in 1946 and nominated for five Oscars, including best picture, "Wonderful" made its way over the airwaves a few months after hitting the big screen in March 1947. Jimmy Stewart revised his role as Bailey for the radio production, which was sponsored by Lux soap, as did Donna Reed, who portrayed Bailey's wife, Mary.

This year marks Chicago Street's fourth presentation of "Wonderful" since 1999, and their first recreation of the Lux Radio Theatre version.

"I love the story," said Henry, who is co–directing the play with Kelly Hite. "It's George Bailey, and how can you not love George Bailey? (The Lux version) was another opportunity for us to do it, but with a twist. It's really self–explanatory."

More than a dozen area thesps are lending their talents to recreate "Wonderful" in Chicago Street Theatre's production.

"We're having a great time. It's fun. We've got a lot of great and talented actors and they're a joy to work with. The great thing is they love the show as much as (myself and Hite) do. You can tell by the way they do their parts. People are going to love it. It's great."

Next up for Chicago Street Theatre is a production of the Tony Award–winning "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia," scheduled to open Jan. 27.


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