New Jersey Stage

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cape May Stage Presents Steve Murray's "This Wonderful Life"

(Cape May) –- Cape May Stage officially begins its holiday celebrations at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse at Bank and Lafayette Streets on November 25th with award-winning playwright Steve Murray's "This Wonderful Life"- the visually stunning stage adaptation of the perennially popular holiday film, It's a Wonderful Life. This one-man tour-de-force production offers a new theatrical twist on this beloved holiday tale.

Directed by Artistic Director Roy Steinberg, the virtuosic Larry Daggett (Broadway's Ragtime, Candide, Damn Yankees, Follies, National Tour of Red Hot and Cole) returns to Cape May Stage after appearing as Cosme McMoon in 2009's Souvenir to portray George Bailey, Clarence the Angel, Mary, Old Man Potter, and twenty more of Bedford Falls' finest citizens. "The characters in It's a Wonderful Life run the gamut from the best (George) to the worst (Potter) in each of us," says Daggett.  In this 90-minute performance, Daggett recreates more than two-dozen characters from the film while he also serves as a narrator, offering amusing commentary on the action.

"When working on a piece where you play multiple characters (often having scenes with each other) the actor's mind becomes focused on a myriad of details: what character am I at this moment? What do I sound like? How do I carry myself? Where is my focus?  It's easy to become so inundated by the technical demands of such a role(s) that the actor stops focusing on the story." Daggett notes.  "For me, Steinberg is the perfect director.  He sees the whole picture. He reminds me of large themes and at the same time suggests tiny bits of business, all of which help to clarify the story."

The story unfolds on Christmas Eve when George Bailey fears he's failed his family, his friends and his community, until an angel-in-waiting named Clarence shows him how bleak life would have been if he'd never existed. Those who have enjoyed Capra's film can't forget the image of a man standing alone on a bridge on Christmas Eve...the story of how he got there, and how he found his way back home.

Audience members don't need to be die-hard fans of the film to enjoy this twist on the heartfelt holiday classic.  Daggett notes, "It's a story at the heart of American mythology: any individual with a pure heart can overcome corporate greed. It also reveals the secret to finding happiness: focus on what you have, not on what you lack."

Brimming with hope and humor, This Wonderful Life reminds us of the power of perspective, friendship and family, just in time for the holiday season.

This Wonderful Life opens Friday, November 25th at 8 p.m. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. through December 31st at the Robert Shackleton Playhouse located at the corner of Bank and Lafayette Streets (405 Lafayette) in downtown Cape May. Tickets are $35 adults, $30 seniors, and $15 students. During the current run Cape May Stage is participating with several Cape May gourmet restaurants in money-saving "Dinner & A Show" package promotions. Call (609) 884-1341 for reservations and information or visit the theatre's website,  Make this heartwarming family experience a part of your holiday tradition this season.

This Wonderful Life is presented through the gracious support of The Ebbitt Room at the Virginia and The Blue Pig Tavern at Congress Hall. This season's sponsors include 410 Bank Street/Frescos, Exit Zero, CapeSCape, The Corner Cottage Apartments, Harry's Bar & Grille at the Montreal Inn, La Mer Beachfront Inn, Lucky Bones, Cape May Winery, and The Washington Inn.

Pictured: Larry Daggett | photo credit: Aleksey Photography