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Review: “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Beef and Boards

October 19, 2011 Leave a comment
"It's a Wonderful Life" at Beef & Boards

"It's a Wonderful Life" at Beef & Boards. Photo provided by the theatre and used with written permission. Photo credit: Julie Curry.

By Elizabeth J. Musgrave
Syndicated Columnist
http://gottagoelizabeth.blogspot.com/

“It’s a Wonderful Life” opens Indianapolis’ holiday season this week on stage at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre. The classic Christmas tale of learning to appreciate and having faith in yourself and others is a favorite with audiences.

The “Gotta Go” spotlight shines strongest on three individuals. Destination Actors, Eddie Curry as Clarence-Angel Second Class, Jeff Stockberger as Pa Bailey and Uncle Billy, and Sean Patrick Hopkins as George Bailey. Curry and Stockberger both have a strong presence on stage and many actors fade when onstage with either.

Hopkins makes his debut on B&B’s stage with a performance that, rather noticeably, varies based on which other actor is onstage. His performance actually seems to match theirs. The stronger and more confident the other actor, the stronger and more confident his own performance becomes. An unusual personality quirk to be certain.

Hopkins’ time with Betsy DiLellio as Mary Hatch Bailey, seemed to be spent holding back, perhaps not wanting to upstage anyone? Perhaps he felt he should blend in with the others. When George unleashes his feelings for Mary, the audience got a truer sense of his ability.

Subsequently, when Stockberger’s Uncle Billy, the absent-minded and often drunk relative, loses a large sum of money, Hopkins’ performance comes alive. It is difficult to share the stage with someone who is larger than you, both with stage presence and true physical size, but it seemed to light the fire needed in Hopkins. The intensity with which he rallies as he loses patience with Billy’s ineptitude (portrayed dead-on by Stockberger) is a marvel to watch as Billy cowers in fear and shame.

Hopkins’ portrayal as George in deep despair, anger and desperation while interacting with the strength of Curry’s enchanting portrayal of Clarence is the other highlight of the show. The two verbally battling it out while fighting George’s internal demons bring out the confidence in the younger actor. The pair pulled the audience into the moment of heated debate while retaining the necessary disbelief of the situation by George.

Bottom Line: Curry, Stockberger and Hopkins create the energy in Beef and Boards’ “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Editor’s Note: Read more of Musgrave’s reviews and commentary by visiting her syndicated blog: http://gottagoelizabeth.blogspot.com/.

Huey Lewis and the News, Clowes Hall, Oct. 22

October 19, 2011 1 comment
Huey Lewis and the News

Huey Lewis and the News at Clowes Memorial Hall, Butler University, Oct. 22.

Huey Lewis and The News have been defying the rock world for three decades. 2009 marked the group’s 30th anniversary and it’s their contagious brand of straight-ahead rock n’ roll that has had them selling well over 20 million albums worldwide in the process. These Grammy Award winners have written and performed such classic Top Ten Hits as Heart of Rock & Roll, Stuck With You and The Power of Love. In 2010, the band released Soulsville, a tribute to Stax Records albums and songs from the 1970s.

Learn about these Grammy award winning icons by taking part in a pre-performance discussion with Matthew Socey, host of WFYI’s The Blues House Party at 7:15 pm in the Krannert Room. This discussion is free with your paid ticket to the event.

Tickets are on sale now in person at the Clowes Hall Box Office, online at Ticketmaster.com, or charge by phone at 800-982-2787. For more information, visit http://www.cloweshall.org/, or call 317-940-6444.