It's a wonderful life highlights a wonderful theater community

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With the help of a cast of talented performers, the Winters Theatre Company (WTC) has brought a feel-good holiday classic from the screen to the stage. In their most recent production, the WTC performers recapture the heartfelt performances that made “It’s a Wonderful Life” a must-watch on the list of American film classics. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the story of a man who, through a little divine intervention, is given a chance to see what his little town would be like if he’d never been born. This stage adaptation tells the familiar story with a few little twists. The WTC has outdone themselves with multiple moving set pieces that transform the Winters Community Center stage from Bedford Falls’ local drugstore to a bank office to a cozy family living room on Christmas Eve. The cast includes several familiar faces. Scott Taylor plays the protagonist George Bailey, bringing out the character’s charming qualities. Cameron Toney gives a strong performance as Mary Hatch, Bailey’s steadfast wife. Together the actors are the moral and emotional heart of the play. Scott Graf plays Bailey’s guardian angel, Clarence. Graf plays the lovable A.S.C. (angel, second class) with a highly physical comedic energy. Trent Beeby, who seldom plays the “bad guy,” is a hit as the miserly Mr. Potter. “Most people hate me, but that’s alright because I don’t like them either,” Beeby says as the cantankerous Mr. Potter. He even has a spot-on evil laugh. The play is filled with colorful side characters and stellar performances. Alexis Velasquez is a crack-up as Aunt Tilly, while Liz Flores pulls the heartstrings as Mother Bailey. Jesse Akers also inspires strong emotions in his performance as Mr. Gower, the pharmacist who is devastated by his son’s death. Cody Svozil brings an impressive stage presence to both the heroic Harry Bailey and the slimey rent collector, Reineman. Bryan Pro captures the affable and scatterbrained Uncle Billy. William Haggerty and Jim Hewlett are fun to watch as Bert and Ernie. Shahzana Ali plays the sultry Violet Bick with confidence and stellar comedic timing. “This old thing?” she asks when Bailey compliments her dress. “I only wear it when I don’t care what I look like,” she says before sauntering off the stage. The production also features a host of local child actors. Kenneth Matheson, Arlo Harris, Isadora Harris and Karin Irwin play the younger versions of George, Harry, Mary and Violet. Ava Southall plays the saxophone as Ernestine. Rachel Rominger, Jackson Bronson, Stella Gonzales and Arlo Harris play George Bailey’s exuberant children. There are also several strong voice actors. Pro in commanding as “The Boss,” and Akers is the patient voice of Joseph. Laure Olson gets some laughs as Mrs. Hatch, unseen by the audience but still trying to play matchmaker for her daughter. Director Anita Ahuja is happy to return to “It’s a Wonderful Life” this season. It’s one of her favorite holiday movies, and it was the first show she directed for WTC. “It’s been fun,” Ahuja says of this production. She is happy to see that so many new actors who have joined the company. Six of the actors had never been in a play before. Ahuja has enjoyed watching them learn, and has welcomed their families into the productions. Many of them helped to build the sets, find props and organize the green room. “It’s the whole magic of community theater,” Ahuja says. The next performance of “it’s a Wonderful Life” will take place on Friday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. “It’s a Wonderful Life” will be playing on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Sunday, Dec. 2.   Tickets for the remaining shows will be $12 general admission and $10 for seniors and children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased at winterstheatre.org.  For more information email winterstheatre@gmail.com or call 530-795-4014.]]>

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