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COVID Or Not, It Really Is ‘A Wonderful Life’

COVID Or Not, It Really Is ‘A Wonderful Life’

After missing its spring production when the pandemic closed schools earlier this year, the Amity Theater Department is ready to bring to a screen near you a heart-warming and life-embracing adaptation of the story at the heart of the Frank Capra film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  The production will be streamed by Broadway on Demand Thursday, December 17 to Sunday, December 20, with the link available on the Amity Creative Theater webpage, and also on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

The audience — no matter how near or far — will be able to access the show at home, at the time of their convenience.  The charge will be $10 plus a streaming fee.

This play by Westport playwright Joe Landry turns the popular story into a live radio play, set in the 1940s, with live sound effects, voice actors, orchestra and singers.  It is the story of George Bailey (portrayed by Ryan Kennedy), a small-town banker whose life of service to those around him is being seriously tested by some setbacks.  He comes to the conclusion that his life is useless and might as well end, when his guardian angel (Nick Matalote) appears to show him what the world would have been like without him.

The cast includes Ryan Kennedy as George Bailey; Grace Blanchard as his wife, Mary Bailey; Nick Matalote as Clarance, the guardian angel; Michael Perron as Mr. Potter, Mr. Gower and others; Nolan Young as his brother Harry, Uncle Billy and others; Jacob Ebert as young Peter Bailey and others; Bridget Browe as Josephe; Audrey Jurzyk as Violet Bick and others; Macie Cox as Mrs. Bailey and others; McKenna Maxwell as Ruth, Zuzu and others and Harry Rosenay as Bert and the Foley artist.

“We started in October rehearsing once a week in person and three days a week via Zoom,” said theater director Robert Kennedy.  “The last few weeks has been 100% on-line rehearsal, which is hard with the lag in internet speeds.  But we are making it work.”

The group performed this past week without an audience on the high school stage designed to keep actors at least six feet apart.  Actors were wearing custom-made “It’s a Wonderful Life” face masks.  Holleran Media from Norwalk took care of the video production.  They have been filming Amity shows for the past six years.

Fitting costumes while keeping socially distanced was a bit of a challenge.  It started with family members taking performers’ measurements; then the costumers chose outfits and left the costumes at a designated area in front of the school.  The kids took them home and tried them on, and sent the costumes back for alterations.  “It hasn’t been easy, but the kids have been excited to have any kind of theater experience at all,” Kennedy said.

By Bettina Thiel – Orange Town News Correspondent

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