Did you ever wonder how those around you, or anyone with whom you’ve interacted with along life’s winding path, whether in great or small ways, would have been had you never been born?
George Bailey got to see such a scenario play out in It’s a Wonderful Life, a classic movie no doubt anyone over the age of 20 has watched more than once during the Christmas season.
This weekend the Williams Street Rep Theater ensemble brought the magical story to life at the Raue Theater in downtown Crystal Lake.
Director Tom Burke-Kaiser told George’s story in a radio show format. Audience members experienced the twists and turns, joys and sorrows of George Bailey and his world as if they were sitting in the audience of a radio show being produced in the 1930s.
The story was told beautifully with a four-piece orchestra up on the stage moving the story along and a fellow providing all the necessary sound effects (as if it were the production of a radio show).
Some actors played multiple roles as David Lowenthall portrayed the angst of George Bailey, a wonderful man who gave up his dreams to care for his family and small hometown. I'm sure it was scary to take on such a beloved character such as George Bailey, but Lowenthall successfully brought George Bailey and all his genuine emotions to life.
Each character was sincere and sweet, just like they were in the old black-and-white movie.
Once again I found myself drifting off wondering what life would have been like had I never been born.
George Bailey saw that the old drugstore pharmacist would have killed someone had he not been there to catch his mistake of filling a prescription with poison.
George Bailey also saw that his little brother Harry would have died had he not been there to save him when he had fallen through the ice. As the story goes Harry went on to be a war hero and save many lives himself. And Mary Hatch would have grown into an old maid, had George Bailey never been born.
It’s A Wonderful Life A Radio Play tugged at the heartstrings and brought to mind a few moments where I wondered, had I not been present in whatever point and time that I may have said one word, made one decision, turned left instead of right ... how would the world be different? Who would have or have not been impacted by my existence?
To what degree does my existence matter?
I think about my best friend Cara when I think like this. Had I not met her in Italian class my junior year of high school -- for a moment think, had her parents not had that last child, and there was no Cara in this world -- then I would have never met my husband, or had my two daughters. I may not have ever known the joy of true friendship and laughing until my face hurt. I may not have ever known the joys of true love and a family of my own. My daughters then would not be in this world. And who knows how my daughters are going to go off and impact the world, do great things, change other people’s lives? They may not be here, I may not still be in this world, had Cara not been born. And I am just one person whose life she has touched.
I am just one person.
The thoughts could go on all day.
It’s A Wonderful Life A Radio Play, on stage at the Raue through Dec. 8, told George’s story in a slightly different way, yet with all the warm sincerity and grace perfectly in tact.
The radio play conjured up all the magical feelings we have come to know from the original movie starring Jimmy Stewart.
Life is long and the road can be really bumpy. There are mean old Mr. Potters everywhere, but there also are lots of Violet and Mary types, as well as Uncle Billy characters to help balance it all out.
And once again the beautiful tale reminded me that on my worst day I do have a wonderful life, I do matter to someone, my life is not a mistake, I do belong in this world and there are always angels watching over me.