By Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

©Gia On The Move 2021

“It is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher, and your oppressively perfect wife.” (wiki)

…the very words of Wendell Jamieson, who noted in his 2008 article for The New York Times which was generally positive in its analysis of the film, that IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE was far from being simply a sweetly sentimental tale.  And yet, this 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama, continues to capture the hearts of people everywhere, year after year. 

This first-run box office failure has the distinguished acclaim of being one of the greatest films of all time, one of the 100 best American films ever made, and is No. 1 on the American Film Institute’s list of the most inspirational American films of all time.

It’s a veritable tearjerker that heavily invests in our personal alternate realities of life – that good things can happen to good people after all.  And, well, who doesn’t love Jimmy Stewart in his role as the nicest guy that ever lived, George Bailey? 

Actor Leo Marks certainly does.  And that was extremely evident watching him perform playwright, Steve Murray’s one-man, adapted version, THIS WONDERFUL LIFE at Rogue Machine’s new home at The Matrix on Melrose Avenue.

Flawlessly directed by Drew Barr, it was a brilliant, top-notch, 75-minute performance that Marks endows with unbelievably spot-on voices of George Bailey and Mr. Potter, as well as the entire town of Bedford Falls, and various angels.  Marks employs incredible use of stage craft when it comes to telling the story.  He invests all the love he can muster – and then some (Tears of Joy are a bonus!).

Then there are the lighting sequences, on-stage video, microphone enhancements and purposeful stage direction.  It is all so artful, witty and delightful.  Although photos and occasional video clips of the actual Frank Capra movie that appear on screen from time to time do draw attention to the fact that, you could, of course, just be sitting home watching the movie.  But then – live theater.  So, the gush and giggle are plenty enough to distract from the fact that this is a play by play re-telling of what we already know.  It could have only been more satisfying to find out just a bit more of the narrator and his point of view.  What does he love about the story besides everything.  In other words, more Leo. 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Southern California Premiere

Now playing until January 3, 2022. 

Run time is approximately 75 minutes (no intermission)

Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc

Playwright: Steve Murray

Directed by: Drew Barr

Produced by: John Flynn (A Rogue Machine Production)

Where:

ROGUE MACHINE (in the Matrix Theatre)

7657 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

(Street parking)

When

Schedule 2021: 12/17, 12/18, 12/19, 12/20, 12/22, 12/23, 12/26, 2/27, 12/31

Schedule 2022: 1/1 – 1/3/2022

Closing: January 3, 2022

How:

For reservations call 855-585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.net

All ages, must present proof of FULL VACCINATION against COVID-19 along with a government-issued photo ID in order to attend. Face masks are required to be worn indoors at all times.

Cost: $25 ($15 for Students)

Photo (above) by John Perrin Flynn: Leo Marks