It’s a wonderful show

  • By Patty Tackaberry / Special to The Herald
  • Thursday, November 25, 2004 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

EVERETT – A disheveled George Bailey (Bob Rapp) stands on a bridge, contemplating suicide. A chipper man intervenes, coaxing George off the precipice by offering snippets of knowledge about George’s life that not just any stranger could know.

That divine interloper, of course, is angel second class Clarence Odbody (Gregg Hays), dispatched to convince George of how much the world needs him. It was this distraught man’s neighbors who summoned the angel. “When they’re heartfelt,” Clarence says of the neighbors’ prayers, “they’re pretty potent missiles.”

In Everett Theatre Society’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” (written by James W. Rodgers, directed by Tom Cook, and based on the film by Frank Capra), Clarence proceeds to lead George through a series of flashbacks that fill in the pivotal points of his life.

There are the silhouetted townspeople singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” as they send George off to college. However, the young man’s lofty plans, “to build things, like skycrapers, or whole cities,” are cut short when his father is felled by a stroke and the stewardship of the family building and loan is left to him. Again, the scene cuts to the funeral, and a chorus of lovely voices offstage harmonize in “Amazing Grace.”

Next Clarence focuses George’s thoughts on his wife Mary (Hilary Heinz). “She was always there,” Clarence says. But what if Mary wasn’t there? What if George got his wish to never have been born? That’s the awful scenario Clarence allows George to glimpse, the one that’s responsible for his spiritual redemption on Christmas Eve.

Heinz, seen on the historic Everett Theatre stage earlier this season in “Kiss Me, Kate,” is quite well cast as Mary. Her singing voice and acting skills are one of the highlights here.

Steve Johnson gives his character Uncle Billy a Yankee accent that sounds like a blend of British and Southern, and plays him more serious, less humorously addle-brained than his film counterpart.

George develops Bedford Falls with the “high ideals” and charitable instincts of his father, whereas the cheap, hard-hearted Mr. Potter (Eric Lewis) would like nothing more than to monopolize the town’s financial interests at everyone else’s expense.

The gruff, imperious Potter labels those George helps as “discontented lazy rabble” instead of a “thrifty working class.” Potter would capitalize opportunistically on their financial ruin, paying 50 cents on the dollar for the shares they feel pressured to sell him.

Potter dangles an attractive job offer in front of George, playing on George’s frustrations at frittering away his life in a small town, taunting him about “playing nursemaid to a lot of garlic eaters.” But George realizes accepting the offer would amount to him selling his soul. “You spin your little web, and you think the world revolves around you and your bank,” he tells Potter. Rapp plays the chagrin and defeat of George well, though he seems to subdue the anger a bit.

During his courtship of Mary, George still chafes at the constriction he feels from life in Bedford Falls. “I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy old town off my feet,” he insists. But Mary, wiser perhaps, feels the romance of life in Bedford Falls, and turns her attention to a broken down old house that will become their love nest.

That house is only alluded to in the deliberately sparse set, but other scenes are given potent suggestion. There’s the warmly lit porch with swing and clapboard siding. There’s the radio around which Mary and the children trim the tree. There’s the iron bridge where George rediscovers the joy of life. The set design is at its most representational when the building and loan comes into play. Accurate costumes conjure up the ’40s.

Like the ghosts that visited Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve, Clarence gives George the chance to see what the world would be like without him. The chaste Bedford Falls becomes a licentious Pottersville; Mary is a bitter spinster who runs from the advances of this deranged stranger who insists he’s her husband. What wonder, then, when George realizes Bert and Ernie do recognize him, his family and friends are waiting anxiously for his return. His brother’s proclamation that he is the richest man in town couldn’t be more true.

Eli J. Medellin photo

Gregg Hays as Clarence and Bob Rapp as George star in Everett Theatre Society’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”


“It’s a Wonderful Life”: Everett Theatre Society presents holiday classic, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 12, $14, $12 seniors and students, $7 children. 2911 Colby Ave., Everett; 425-258-6766.


“It’s a Wonderful Life”: Everett Theatre Society presents holiday classic, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 12, $14, $12 seniors and students, $7 children. 2911 Colby Ave., Everett; 425-258-6766.

Talk to us

More in Life

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay walks into the Prohibition Grille along Hewitt Avenue in Everett Wednesday Dec. 5, 2012 while reportedly filming an episode of Kitchen Nightmares at the Everett restaurant. (Mark Mulligan / The Herald)
Even more films and TV shows filmed in Snohomish County

Readers point out projects previously missed in this series, from reality television to low-budget indie films.

Daniella Beccaria / for The Herald

15-month-old Kantu attempts to climb a pumpkin at Stocker Farms in Snohomish on Sunday, September 20th, 2015. Stocker Farms offers a U-pick patch, farm animals and a corn maze.
Best pumpkin patch in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied, here are the results.

A woman diverts from her walk on Colby Avenue to take a closer look at a pickup truck that was partly crushed by a fallen tree during an overnight wind storm Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in north Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)
Storm season is coming. Here’s how to prepare for power outages.

The most important action you can take is to make an emergency preparedness kit.

Do you prefer green or red grapes? This antique Moser pitcher is decorated with enameled grapevines on shaded red-to-green glass.
Grapevine pitcher was made by renowned Bohemian company

Also, queries about grandmother’s coffee set and late husband’s Beatles records and memorabilia collection.

The city of Mukilteo is having a naming contest for its new $75,000 RC Mowers R-52, a remote-operated robotic mower. (Submitted photo)
Mukilteo muncher: Name the $75,000 robot mower

The city is having a naming contest for its new sod-slaying, hedge-hogging, forest-clumping, Mr-mow-it-all.

Death of parent with child. Piece of paper with parents and children is torn in half.
Helping children cope with the hard realities of divorce

I’s important to set aside one’s feelings and find a way to make this challenging transition as comfortable for children as you can.

In Belgium, each type of beer has its own glass – whether wide, tall, or fluted – to show off its distinct qualities.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Bruges brews lift a weary traveler’s spirits

The Belgian city is a mecca for beer lovers from around the world.

Most Read