A charmed ‘Life’: Holiday classic comes to the stage • Brooklyn Paper

A charmed ‘Life’: Holiday classic comes to the stage

Holiday classic: Sarah Cappiello and Dalles Willie and star as Mary and George Bailey in the Narrows Community Theater’s production of the musical “A Wonderful Life,” opening on Dec. 1.
Jennifer Specht

It’s a wonderful show!

A holiday classic will come to life on stage this weekend, when the Narrows Community Theater presents a musical adaptation of the film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The stage show “A Wonderful Life,” opening on Dec. 1 at the Fort Hamilton Post Army Theater in Bay Ridge, closely follows the plot of the 1946 Frank Capra movie starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man who receives a visit from his guardian angel on Christmas Eve, just when he is on the brink of suicide. The director of the singing, dancing Christmas story said that she had some challenges bringing the musical’s 32 short scenes into a cohesive whole on the stage.

“Because each scene is so short, they really tried to focus on telling the story of the six most important days in George Bailey’s life that led him to try to commit suicide,” said Leah Zepel, who also choreographed the show. “I staged it as a whole piece, so that you’re watching people change the scenery even while there’s a scene happening. It’s told in snippets, so I had to be creative.”

The 25-person cast includes a mix of Bay Ridge locals, including professional actors, kids, and adult theater enthusiasts, who have all been rehearsing together four days a week since early October. Dalles Willie portrays George Bailey, Sarah Cappiello plays his wife, Mary Bailey, and James Martinelli stars as Clarence, the angel-in-training.

The roughly two-hour show features 20 different songs, but otherwise stays true to the movie, which has become an annual television tradition.

Zepel said that the timeless tale is particularly suited to the stressful holiday season of 2017, when everyone could use a reminder that family ties and loving relationships count more than anything else.

“In the times we’re living in right now, when there are so many uncertainties, it is truly the story of one man discovering what makes life worth living — and it’s not the money or the prestige, which is what he thinks he wants. It’s family, it’s love, it’s the commitment that you make that changes other peoples’ lives that make life worth living,” she said.

“A Wonderful Life” at the Fort Hamilton Post Army Theater (enter at 101st Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway in Bay Ridge, www.nctheaterny.com). Be sure to bring photo ID to the base. Dec. 1, 2, 9 at 8 pm; Dec. 3, 9, 10 at 2 pm. $25 ($20 seniors and students; $15 kids 12 and younger).

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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