This reviewer must confess that although I was familiar with the classic film It's a Wonderful Life, Leo Marks' opening monologue made me realize how little I could actually recall-beyond the fact that it starred Jimmy Stewart. At that point, I felt handicapped and a bit bewildered as the show progressed.
The play was set up with the comment about It's a Wonderful Life being a favorite film and that this would be a nostalgic return to the story.
As Leo Marks launched into his amazing performance, any considerations or concerns I might have had quickly faded as I became immersed in the story and totally engaged by his remarkable performance.
At this point I have to confess that one-person plays aren't my favorite theatrical experience. I usually prefer the interaction between actors as they carry a plot forward. However, my narrow view was quickly forgotten as Marks' performance held my rapt attention for the length of the 75-minute play.
The play, thanks to Marks incredible performance, beautifully brought the film's story entirely to life with some Jimmy Stewart impressions thrown in among many of the other characters. Yet, with Steve Murray's masterful script, this is a play and the film all rolled into one.
The stage was bare except for a backdrop that served as a video screen for key scenes. Props and microphones presented by a stagehand did not distract but added to the overall experience of the play.
Not hype, I can say nothing better than what was written on the show's promotional material:
"This holiday season, Frank Capra's iconic holiday film It's a Wonderful Life is brought to the stage in a hilarious and heartwarming one-person show starring Leo Marks. Part fan frenzy and part tour-de-force, it's a celebration of cinematic storytelling and the difference, big and small, that one person can make in the lives of others."
If you are a fan of this film-or if, like me, you have a vague memory-give yourself a WONDERFUL gift this holiday season.
This Wonderful Life runs thru Jan 3: Sun 12/26 & 1/2 at 3pm; Mon 12/27 & 1/3 at 8pm; Fri 12/31 at 7pm; Sat 1/1 at 8pm. The Matrix Theatre 7657 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles (855)585-5185