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04Dec

It’s a Wonderful Life, Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Maryland, December 1, 2018

Paige Hollander

Woodrow Wilson High School

 

"Strange isn't it? Each man's life touches so many others". This is the heartwarming message behind The Midnight Players of Poolesville High School's rendition of It's A Wonderful Life. Through the good times and bad, It's A Wonderful Life evokes a powerful feeling of community and togetherness despite the hardships of daily life in the small town of Bedford Falls. The casts unity on and off stage was truly in the Christmas spirit.

 

Based on the 1946 movie directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart, It's A Wonderful Life tells the story of a young man, George Bailey, who considers committing suicide on Christmas Eve. The divine intervention of a second-class angel who is committed to convincing George his life is meaningful and the people of Bedford Falls need him, takes him on a tour of his past and shows him what the world would be like without him in it.

 

The townspeople of Bedford Falls formed a compelling ensemble complete with individual personas that formed distinct stories in the background, bringing the audience into the play, absorbing them in the lives and struggles of the characters. Their vibrancy and devotion to the production showed as they sang Christmas carols and interacted with  George. This play in many ways revolves around its ensemble since every action George makes is to help the community and his neighbors. The ensemble held the weight of the show with impressive maturity and talent.

 

Playing the sorrowful George Bailey was John Foster who embraced the part, finding the deeper meaning in the Christmas classic, going above and beyond to understand his character. His prayer to God to help him find his way struck the hearts of the audience with unbelievable authenticity and intensity. He spoke clearly and with an evident mastery of his character that was unparalleled. His tremendous physicality and prodigious chemistry with his faithful wife Mary Hatch was undeniable. Taking on the part of Mary Hatch was Calley Mullin, her sweet disposition and charm added light and energy to the production. She never failed to underpin every one of George's accomplishments. Through facial expression and amazing diction, her part was unwaveringly reliable, fulfilling every nuance of a supporting part.

 

The snowy backdrop of a Bedford Falls street matched with countless detailed and intricate moving set pieces seamlessly carried the audience from one scene to the next. Sound cues never missed a beat and each actor could be heard clearly and understood fully thanks to Poolesville High Schools Sound Team, Riley Georgius, Julian Cornejo, and Marvin Kipchumba, and crew. Time period-appropriate props (Catheryn Treleven, March Kaplan, and Amy Kinzie) added to the authenticity of the production. The scenic backdrop was truly from another time and place, visually appealing from every seat.

 

The cast of Poolesville High School's It's A Wonderful Life brought to life a Christmas classic brimming with love, forgiveness, and charity. It was a joyous show that reminded the audience to be thankful for every person in their own life.


 

Lily Perez

Woodrow Wilson High School

 

 For those not yet in the holiday spirit, one need look no further than Poolesville High School's heartwarming production of "It's a Wonderful Life" to remember the joy which the season brings. The iconic story of despair being overcome by hope and cheer, popularized in the 1946 film directed by Frank Capra, was realized with charm and sincerity by the Poolesville cast and crew, who effectively brought to life one of the most beloved films in American cinema.

 

John Foster anchored the production as George Bailey, a man so overwhelmed by the disappointments of small-town life that he contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve. In his poignant performance, Foster effectively conveyed the dichotomy of hopelessness and contentment which George experiences throughout the play. After being visited by Clarence (Anthony Fuster), his witty guardian angel, Foster reenacted the sacrifices which George made for the good of his community, crafting compelling relationships with those he came into contact with in his ultimately wonderful life. In particular, the relationship between Foster's George and his wife Mary (Calley Mullin), was touching and sincere, with the two aptly conveying the development of their relationship from young sweethearts to a mature married couple. Uncle Billy (Aidan Auel) and the memorable Mr. Martini (Liam McCue) were among those whom George supported in their plight against economic depression, contributing to Foster's creation of a sympathetic central character.

 

Wheelchair-bound as Henry F. Potter, Jacob Pelzman used varied inflection and facial expressions to create an intimidating antagonist. Pelzman's portrayal of the manipulative slumlord Potter effectively foiled Foster's kindhearted George, emphasizing the tolerance and upstanding nature of the latter as he repeatedly acted in a selfless and caring manner.

 

The ensemble of "It's a Wonderful Life," styled in period-appropriate make-up and hair by Julia Pavlick, Mandy Mossman, and Raeyna Sharma, was essential to conveying the spirit of George's small town, in which the compassion of its townspeople was not quelled by the challenges of their socioeconomic condition. Each actor had a distinct characterization, and acted with cohesiveness and commitment as they created an image of a community on an austere stage punctuated with authentic props. A multitude of scenic changes were handled effectively by the stage crew, and clear sound offstage and on facilitated the development of the plot, which featured vignettes from throughout George's life.

 

George Bailey's journey to the brink of desolation and back is one which contains the essential theme of treating others with dignity and respecting their humanity, even in the face of doubt. The committed cast of Poolesville High School's production of "It's a Wonderful Life" was uplifting and charismatic, breathing new life into a classic tale.

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