Review: It’s A Wonderful Life

It’s A Wonderful Life returns once again to the Arts Club’s Granville Island Stage and even after three years, the show has not lost any of its lustre and continues to be worthy of its yearly visit.

Of course, the big news this year is the re-casting of George Bailey. With Todd Talbot, who played George for the last two years with such great success, hoofing it over at the Stanley Theatre in White Christmas, Bob Frazer has been cast in the role this year.

I realize I might take some heat for the comparisons between Talbot and Frazer here but for me what makes It’s A Wonderful Life so successful is in its consistency. There is something warmly familiar about seeing Jimmy Stewart each year in the movie version. Same with the stage play. For two years Talbot did such an amazing job with the role that I actually looked forward to seeing him again.

But enough comparisons! Bob Frazer is the new George Bailey and while Frazer plays George with an angrier edge than I remember with Talbot, he easily steps into the role and makes it his own.

It's A Wonderful Life
Kirsten Robek and Bob Frazer in the Arts Club’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life. Photo by David Cooper.

Other than a few other casting changes (I promise, no more comparisons), Director Dean Paul Gibson has wisely left things pretty much the same ensuring what made it successful in previous years continues again this year.

This is the third time my partner and I have seen It’s A Wonderful Life on stage.  As we left the theatre last night I asked him if he would see it again next year.  Without hesitation he said, yes.  And, you know what?  Me too.

Last year we saw It’s A Wonderful Life up against The Drowsy Chaperone. This year the fight for your entertainment dollar is another two-way fight between It’s A Wonderful Life and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  But like last year, we can’t  recommend one over the other. Our suggestion? Shave a little off your holiday shopping budget and go see both!

4 out 5 starsIt’s A Wonderful Life
Arts Club Granville Island Stage
26 November 2009 – 2 January 2010
Monday at 8pm, Tuesday at 7:30pm, Wednesday–Saturday at 8pm, and Wednesday & Saturday at 2pm

George Bailey performs countless good deeds for friends and townsfolk in Bedford Falls, yet all that seems to count for naught when he faces financial adversity. At George’s most woeful moment, his guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody, swoops in to remind him that faith, hope, and family make life truly wonderful.

Tickets are $25 and $50 and are available at the Arts Club Box Office by calling 604.687.1644 or online at http://www.artsclub.com.

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