Arts Club Theatre Company

Date and Venue 26 November 2009 - 2 January 2010 @ 8pm & Saturday matinees @ 2pm | Granville Island Stage, Vancouver

Reviewer Susan Peake

For the third year in a row, the Arts Club Theatre Company has chosen It's a Wonderful Life as its Christmas offering; this because of overwhelming past audience response to the classic story that seems to touch so many hearts. Adapted to the stage by Philip Grecian from the famous movie of the same name starring James Stewart, Director Dean Paul Gibson stays true to the original story.

The cast is one of the largest to grace the Granville Island Stage - 16 in total, and I could not help but admire the way in which the actors managed to move seamlessly from one scene to the next with no sign of congestion. The backdrop was a highlight, cleverly displaying snippets from the original film to correspond with the scene on stage at various points throughout the play. Bob Frazer is an excellent George Bailey; Kirsten Robek as his wife too is outstanding, as are the other 14 (including great performances from the children).

The scene stealer, though, has to be the guardian angel, Clarence, played by the incomparable Bernard Cuffling. Happily, this role has been expanded so that we get to enjoy the delightful dialogue so well delivered by Cuffling. The story is an enduring one. We observe the main character as he struggles with the challenges in his life and at one point, comes close to giving up completely. He eventually, with the help of Clarence, comes to realize that he has so much to be grateful for - his wife, children and wonderful friends. An obvious conclusion for most of us, but we can all use a reminder of our priorities - and what better time to do that than the festive season.

It's a Wonderful Life is the perfect choice for a family Christmas outing. The story can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and the message is timeless.

© 2009 Susan Peake