Saturday, December 8, 2012

REVIEW: Slocum's "It's a Wonderful Life" is Wonderful

Chances are you're quite familiar with the holiday movie classic "It's a Wonderful Life" starring Jimmy Stewart. If not here's the basic synopsis:

It's the Christmas season and George Bailey's life is falling apart. In despair he gets drunk and, then after running his car into a tree, decides to jump off a bridge. An angel, named Clarence, saves his life, but he "awakes" in a life where he never existed and, therein, gets to see that his life has mattered and that his friends and family are truly dear to him. He "reawakens" to the moment he was about to jump and finds that things really do work out for good.

The Show Must Go On

The cast and "radio studio"set for Slocum Players It's a Wonderful Life.
After months of hiatus, the Slocum Players are back and open their resurrected life with a classic story of resurrection. "It's a Wonderful Life" (by Joe Landay) will be presented as a live radio show now through Dec. 16 at the Friends of the Carpenter workshop/warehouse, 1600 W. 20th St. in Vancouver, and Dec. 22 as a dinner theater at Tommy O's, 831 Washington St., Vancouver. Their own Sassy Ape Theater has not yet been approved for occupancy.

Encore! Encore!

John Borgen
The costumed production, presented with a minimal set and live sound effects, is wonderfully directed by Corrie Graham and Jamie Montgomery and features John Borgen, Mickey McGee, John Richards, Danyelle Tinker Lowder, Susan Van Atter and The Foley Sisters: Lynn Lampkin and Glydene Reinmiller.

If the line-up sounds familiar that's because Slocum presented the show last year with the exact same cast.

Mickey McGee
And that cast is mighty talented. Each plays several parts (though some more than others). The guys especially were good at doing multiple voices. All were exceptional, but Borgen and McGee really had to lay down a variety of characters. Richards' George Bailey voice was much akin to that of Jimmy Stewart. In fact, the voicings all paid homage to the movie characters you love. Several of the actors had to switch instantly and seamlessly between two or even three voices in a single conversation (with themselves)! I thought only Robin Williams could do that. ;)

John Richards
Pre-show (just before "going on the air") the ensemble does interact in character with the audience which adds to the evening's charm. Midway they also present a couple humorous "sponsor" commercials.

While the set was a bit on the iffy side, the costumes, hair and makeup were marvelous and technically the show came off like a dream. Lighting was simple (four Fresnels and an overhead pan), but was all that was required. The Foley (sound) effects were effective, but were subjected to the back of the stage where they could not be watched (which is part of the fun for these "live radio" shows). Also I felt that the musical tracks could have been a little hotter.

Danyelle Tinker Lowder
Less than ideal was the setting: a slightly chilly warehouse/carpentry shop. Somewhat make-shift, but an available space none-the-less. Friends of the Carpenter was good enough to open their building (free of charge) to the Slocum Players since their own space (Sassy Ape Theater) has not been approved for occupancy. Friends of the Carpenter is a unique ministry that helps the homeless by giving them training and employment through woodworking. Their showroom is open to the public prior to and after the show (and they have a large assortment of nice pieces for purchase).

Susan Van Atter
I think one thing would go a long way to improve the viewing experience: a black drape upstage. Otherwise, I pretty much got lost in the show and forgot where I was.

It's a Wonderful Show

This production has a very talented cast and they are a joy to watch and hear. If you love the movie you will probably love this presentation. I know I did. Very enjoyable, very well done, and very merry. Please go and help Slocum Players raise the funds they need to get Sassy Ape open!

Glydene Reinmiller
If you plan to go to the regular (non-dinner) show, dress warmly and Google Map the route or use your GPS; several patrons got lost. General directions are: Drive west on Mill Plain over the railway tracks and take the first right following the white sandwich board signs that say "Slocum Players".

Showtimes are as follows: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 14 and 15; 2:30 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16 and the Dec. 22 dinner theater begins at 6 p.m. with curtain at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 at the door.

Dinner Theater

Lynn Lampkin
The Dec. 22 Dinner Theater at Tommmy O's includes hors d’ourves, of Hawaiian Meatballs, Stuffed Phyllo Shells, Fruit and Cheese Platter, Spiced Nuts; a Salad Course of Organic Mixed Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Ranch Dressing and Hawaiian Sweet Rolls with Butter all served family style at tables of 4-7 people. Plus Entrée Selections (choice of): Sweet and Spicy Papaya “Airline” Chicken Breast, Coffee Rubbed Flat Iron Steak (both are gluten-free) or a Vegetarian selection of Tofu and Vegetable Curry served over garlic mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley; and, of course, a dessert of assorted cupcakes, cookies and bars by Treat Bakery.

John Richards as George Bailey speaks with 
Susan Van Atter as Violet Bick.
The agenda for that evening is as follows: Doors open at 6 p.m.; guests will be seated at 6:45 and order dinner entrees; the show begins at 7 p.m.; Intermission will be at 7:40 p.m.; dinner will be served at 7:45 p.m.; the second act will begin at 8:20 p.m.; and dessert and coffee will be served at 9 p.m.


The actual running time of the show is about 90 minutes.
Christmas decorations grace the front window of Slocum Players' not yet opened Sassy
Ape Theater. You can help open their doors by attending this production. Photo provided.
Dinner Show tickets are $50 per person (includes ticket price, dinner, tax and gratuity). All beverages (aside from the coffee with dessert) can be purchased for an additional charge the night of event. Tickets are sold through Tommy O’s Bistro ONLY.

Review, photographs and video (except as noted) by 
Gregory E. Zschomler

1 comment:

  1. I too, got lost in the show. I appreciated the graciousness of our host (Friends of the Carpenter) and cast. It filled my heart with joy to see the Lord answer prayers in that FoC and the Slocum Players found each other to fill their needs and to collaborate ot bless the community.