by Paige Allison
Olde Glory Theatre is a charming venue nestled in a converted church near the town square of Seward, Nebraska. The setting is intimate; dinner theatre style with patrons seated four to a table creating a sense of community that certainly adds to the ambience of the fictional town, Bedford Falls, New York. Enhanced by the authentic sets and the candlelit tables, the audience is in for a treat. This heartwarming tale of George Bailey’s guardian angel enlightening him about how truly blessed he is…all in time for a Christmas miracle; a show of kindness and the generosity of Bailey’s community.
Theatre, by design, is intended to evoke emotion, to make us feel and think. Perhaps the initial radio play version of “It’s A Wonderful Life” in 1946 or even the original (now famed) film version in 1947 were not received with the same warm fuzzy emotions they are today. However, this holiday classic will not disappoint. The story of George Bailey’s kind heart stretched to what he feels are the limits of his compassion, is timeless.
Directed by Mark Ballard, the cast pulls together a grand undertaking. Community theatre always presents a challenge in pooling human resources and coordinating rehearsal times. Ballard notes that there was only one rehearsal in their weeks long preparation (of 30 rehearsals) in which all the cast was present at the same time! With cast members coming from the surrounding communities including Utica, Seward, Milford, and Denton; and the age span and life commitments of people between the ages of 6 and 83, bringing this cast together is a tremendous feat! Even a quick glance at the cast list reveals that this venture is truly a family affair. The actor’s surnames of Janda, Boggs, Balldinger, and Williams are shared by multiple performers. Truly, The Olde Glory Theatre has embraced both community and family with this production!
The central character of George Bailey is played by Roy Nolan, a strapping young actor who displays appropriate angst and frustration at the circumstances that have befallen him. Indeed Bailey is contemplating how life would be without his influence in Bedford Falls, as if he didn’t exist.. His lovable guardian angel Clarence Odbody (AS2 for Angel Second Class) is charmingly portrayed by Justin Baldinger. Baldinger weaves the threads of Bailey’s life and shows him the hypothetical “if he had never been born.” Ultimately, Bailey comes to see that the town he loves so would be absent in its current state, leaving the townspeople at the mercy of the Bailey family’s business nemesis, Mr. Potter. Potter, played by Norman Porath, exercises his acting chops as the unethical businessman the audience loves to dislike.
The sets, designed and created by JoAnn Boshart and Denise Christiansen are charming and inviting. Boshart and Christiansen are also responsible for costumes, with the additional assistance of Vicki Leubbe. Ballard himself wears multiple hats in the production of the show as not only the director but light and sound designer. Bob Boshart and Bill and Diane Edwards round out the production crew. Community theatre, brought to you by a community of artists and about a community full of compassion… there is no better way to begin your holiday season! This show is a heart warming reminder of blessings unseen.
If you go: Tickets for It’s a Wonderful Life are available by calling 402-304-5392 or online. The show runs Thursday, December 5th through Saturday, December 7th featuring a ham dinner. Sunday’s final matinee will be a dessert affair. Bring your family to this beautiful family show. It’s a wonderful way to begin your holiday season!
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