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Humor, tears, and music mix in ‘It is a Great Life’ at Toby’s Dinner Theatre

To me, one of the best artwork can consolation and assist me perceive a disturbing world resembling this. It’s a Great Life is a well known story about redemption and serving the better good that’s relatable to many individuals the world over. The 1946 film adaptation stirs up many emotions — and tears at occasions.

It’s a Great Life – The Musical follows George Bailey from his early aspirations to see the world to his later challenges in life. In its staging of Michael Tilford’s adaptation of the beloved and well-known movie, Toby’s Dinner Theatre preserves the feelings and humor of the unique. As directed by Creative Director Toby Orenstein, this present is a brand new vacation traditional for the household.

This present is heavy on musical numbers; Conductor Ross Scott Rawlings shepherded flawless tunes. It additionally has thrilling choreography due to Tina Marie DeSimone.

DeCarlo J. Raspberry (Joseph), Justin Calhoun (George Bailey), and David James (Clarence) in ‘It’s a Great Life – The Musical.’ Photograph by Jeri Tidwell Images.

The celebs of this present are the irrepressible comedy duo of DeCarlo J. Raspberry and David James because the angels Joseph and Clarence respectively. On this adaptation, the angels had been concerned in practically each scene with that age-old conceit of being invisible to the principle characters. Raspberry was the straight man to James’ goofiness as he defined the replay of George’s life. James introduced the viewers many grins and laughs.

A present like this will need to have a relatable George Bailey, and Justin Calhoun brings that high quality and extra to the position. A veteran of many reveals at Toby’s, Calhoun performed diversified feelings and confirmed robust vocals in numbers like “George’s Resolution” and “Ya Gotta Have Wings.”

George’s spouse, Mary, was effectively portrayed by MaryKate Brouillet. I appreciated her duet with Calhoun in “I’m At Residence.”

The Bailey Household (Lucas Rahaim, Jana Sharbaugh, Gwyneth Porter, Justin Calhoun, and MaryKate Brouillet) in ‘It’s a Great Life – The Musical.’ Photograph by Jeri Tidwell Images.

Robert Biedermann introduced simply the correct quantity of meanness to the miserly, bitter Mr. Potter. From his wheelchair, he snarled and growled his means by way of many scenes, making a difficult foil for George.

The affable Uncle Billy was well-played by Andrew Horn. I actually felt for Uncle Billy when he made a crucial cash mistake. George Bailey’s buddies Ernie and Bert had been performed by Shawn Kettering and Jeffrey Shankle respectively. Kettering introduced good vocals to “The Honky Tonk.”

I appreciated the passion Gerald Jordan dropped at George’s buddy, the optimistic Sam Wainwright. David Bosley-Reynolds was patriarchal and clever as Peter Bailey George’s father. The energetic A.J. Whittenberger, in his thirty second present at Toby, performed Harry Bailey.

Susan Thorton acquired some good laughs as Mary’s mother, Mrs. Hatch, in a pivotal, romantic scene. Gwyneth Porter was cute as George’s daughter Zuzu; she had a shifting scene with Calhoun.

“The Biggest Present” featured shifting vocals by Adrienne Athanas’ Ma Bailey. The ensemble numbers, resembling “Vespers for the Widespread Man,” had been a few of my favorites, and I feel labored one of the best.

The solid of ‘It’s a Great Life – The Musical.’ Photograph by Jeri Tidwell Images.

For the dinner theater configured within the spherical, Toby’s scenic design, by David A. Hopkins, consisted of a mixture of fastened set items, surroundings wagons, and flown lights and chandeliers. Probably the most spectacular piece was a piece of a bridge, positioned up a flight of stairs, that was integral to the story.

Lynn Joslin labored magic in her lighting design as a result of when sections of the stage went darkish, surroundings wagons and different set items appeared seemingly out of nowhere because the lights got here again up. Sarah King’s costume design was a spot-on illustration of submit–World Warfare Two apparel; she actually earned her cash with the resplendent, white angel costumes. Shane Lowry’s properties design included such gems as classic telephones.

Orenstein made all of the aforementioned mix into fairly an satisfying night of musical theater. I appreciated that most of the extraneous scenes and asides from the movie had been excised.  My one quibble is that some musical numbers may have been shorter. This can be a cozy present for the best time of yr. Audiences of all ages will really feel deeply in addition to be entertained.

Working time: Two and a half hours, together with a 20-minute intermission.

It’s a Great Life – The Musical performs by way of January 15, 2023, at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Street, Columbia, MD. Tickets ($57–$79) will be bought by calling 410-730-8311 or on-line.

The menu is right here.

COVID Security: Friends are required to indicate proof of full vaccination towards COVID-19 or proof of a unfavourable check taken inside 72 hours of efficiency, together with an identical photograph ID. Masks have to be worn indoors always besides whereas consuming and ingesting. Toby’s Dinner Theatre’s full COVID insurance policies will be discovered right here.

It’s a Great Life – The Musical
Ebook and Adaptation by Michael Tilford

CAST (so as of look)
Joseph: DeCarlo J. Raspberry
Clarence: David James
Younger George/Pete Bailey: Lucas Rahaim
Younger Mary/Janey Bailey: Jana Sharbaugh
Mr. Gower: Adam Grabau
Uncle Billy: Andrew Horn
Peter Bailey: David Bosley-Reynolds
Mr. Potter: Robert Biedermann
George Bailey: Justin Calhoun
Clerk/Mr. Carter: Jordan B. Stocksdale
Ernie/Chairman of the Board: Shawn Kettering
Bert: Jeffrey Shankle
Aunt Tillie: Tina Marie DeSimone
Harry Bailey: A.J. Whittenberger
Ma Bailey: Adrienne Athanas
Violet: Santina Maiolatesi
Sam Wainwright: Gerald Jordan
Mary Hatch: MaryKate Brouillet
Elsie: Lydia Gifford
Mrs. Sloan: Jane C. Boyle
Miss Jones: Heather Marie Beck
Mrs. Hatch: Susan Thornton
Zuzu Bailey: Gwyneth Porter

Director: Toby Orenstein
Assistants to the Director: Mark Minnick and Tina Marie DeSimone
Musical Path: Ross Scott Rawlings
Choreography: Tina Marie DeSimone
Scenic Design: David A. Hopkins
Lighting Design: Lynn Joslin
Sound Design: Mark Smedley
Costume Design: Sarah King
Properties Design: Shane Lowry



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