Jim Lowe / Staff Photo
From left, Maura O’Brien, Kim Bent, Cher Laston, Michael Manion and, in the background, Casey Covey perform in Lost Nation Theater’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
MONTPELIER — It’s corn, but it’s delicious corn.
Lost Nation Theater reprised its radio-style version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the umpteenth time, but it never seems to grow old. In fact, Thursday’s performance, the last of its two-night run at City Hall Arts Center, seemed incredibly fresh.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is best known as the 1946 Frank Capra film starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. Capra based it on a 1939 short story, “The Greatest Gift,” by Philip Van Doren Stern. While the film was not an immediate hit, it has become an icon of American Christmas lore. Presented nearly annually during the holidays on network television, it was named No. 1 on the American Film Institute’s list of most inspirational films.
The plot centers on George Bailey, a very nice guy, forced to give up everything to support the family business, a savings and loan, and hence his family and community. When George is accused of embezzling, though innocent, he’s at wit’s end. George is about to throw himself off a bridge to end it all, but he is interrupted by a strange little guy, Clarence Odbody — George’s inept guardian angel.
Clarence takes George on an odyssey that has been an inspiration to the world ever since — and terribly entertaining as well.
Lost Nation Theater presented the effective adaptation by Joe Landry, set in a New York City radio station, on Wednesday and Thursday. Directed by Kathleen Keenan, Lost Nation’s producing artistic director, the production was well cast and most entertaining.
Kim Bent, the theater’s founding artistic director, played George a la Jimmy Stewart, both convincingly and sympathetically. Michael Manion was charming as the exasperated angel Clarence. Mark Roberts was perfectly evil as the rich villain Potter.
Cher Laston was ever so earnest as George’s loving wife, Mary. Maura O’Brien was particularly funny as the man-loving Violet. The funniest character visually, though, was the Buster Keaton-like Casey Covey, who played the stage manager and sound effects artist.
Most of the actors played multiple roles, and the ensemble was tight-knit. Occasionally, voices of the wrong gender seemed inauthentic, but this wasn’t often. Cora Fauser was responsible for the attractive period costumes.
Lost Nation’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” reminds us of how we want our lives to be.
LOST NATION THEATER
For information about Lost Nation Theater’s 2013 season, call 229-0492 or go online to www.lostnationtheater.org.
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