Hilary Holbrook has worked as an actor and violinist in Chicago since graduating from Loyola in 2008. When not in the theater, Hilary enjoys knitting, antiquing, and adventures of all kinds!
The cast of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Photo curtesy of American Blues Theatre.
Review: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: LIVE IN CHICAGO! at American Blues Theatre
By Hilary Holbrook
‘Tis the Season!…for hundreds of Christmas shows. While each brings their own unique spin on the message of Christmas, I highly recommend IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE for its charm, beautiful storytelling, fantastic singing, and terrific ability to transport the audience to a snazzy time that still feels all too familiar.
This show is an experience. When you enter the space, you are immediately transported to the 1940’s as you become the audience for WABT’s radio broadcast of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, the 1946 classic movie about a down-on-his-luck businessman who discovers what’s really important. The gorgeous set by Grant Sabin provides just the right amount of coziness and charm with the necessary ambiance of a radio studio. The cast, beautifully adorned by Christopher J. Neville, is bustling from the top of the pre-show with music, engaging the audience, and prepping them for the logistics of a live radio broadcast. The actors recite the play while live foley fills in all the necessary effects to make the story come to life. Every single person in this cast is both an excellent actor and a beautiful singer, so bravo to Dara Cameron, Ian Paul Custer, Brandon Dahlquist, Shawn J. Goudie, James Joseph, Michael Mahler, John Mohrlein, and Camille Robinson. Goudie’s foley effects, my favorite part, were spot on, and I particularly enjoyed Mahler’s jingles, written for all the sponsors of the show.
It’s a packed event that’s so full of information that I found myself wishing the piece had just a little more room to breathe. There’s a lot going on but, at times, the pace felt as though the actors were moving as though they knew they had a lot of ground to cover and not because the piece required a pace of such magnitude. I was thoroughly engaged in everything that was happening, but that took me out of the action because I thought “Oh, they must not have an intermission.”
I absolutely loved this show, and I would recommend it to anyone. I laughed. I cried. I was just delighted. It’s never too late to take stock of what’s really important in one’s life, and we all could use a reminder to never let the Potter’s of the world get us down.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE runs through December 31st at The Greenhouse Theatre. For more information and to purchase tickets visit americanbluestheater.com