“Wonderful Life” opens
Perhaps the only question that patrons to Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre’s new show, a “radio” play rendition of “It’s A Wonderful Life” will have to ponder is, “Do you watch or listen to it?” The enduring Christmas tale centers on George Bailey, who spends his entire life giving up his big dreams of travel and living a larger, worldly life, for the good of his town, the fictional Bedford Falls, NY. After marrying his love, Mary, he witnesses the impact of the October 1929 stock market collapse’s impact on his town, and by Christmas Eve, he is broken and suicidal. His dad, who ran a building loan company, died earlier in the year, then he was mortified by the misplacing of an $8,000 loan and the machinations of the evil millionaire, Mr. Potter. George decides to do himself in, a controversial theme in the 1940s, but is saved at the last minute by his guardian angel, Clarence, who shows him how his town, family and friends would be had George never existed.
Director Shira Dubrovner’s version of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” which is now playing at the Mammoth Lakes Foundation, adjacent to Cerro Coso College’s Mammoth campus, is audio production veteran Tony Palermo’s faithful radio play drama adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film about dreams, sacrifice and redemption in small-town America. (Palermo has won numerous awards for his work in radio and audio CD book production.)
The set is a 1946-era radio studio during the holiday season, and the audience is part of the production, in which most of the actors play multiple supporting roles, reading from the script into microphones, with Sound Effects artist Tim Casey performing live on stage with them.
Dennis Kostecki makes his MLRT debut as George, with his own fresh, crisp delivery, as opposed to just copying the timeless, indelible Jimmy Stewart characterization. Another newcomer, Roger Freed, plays the part of Clarence. His take on the angel trying to get his wings is as modest as Henry Travers made him in the movie version, and yet every bit as sympathetic and endearing. And Julia Runcie, who wowed audiences this summer in Sierra Classic Theatre’s “Twelfth Night,” would make Donna Reed proud with her eloquent performance of Mary Hatch.
The entire ensemble, though, deserves a lot of credit for not only delineating all the various co-lead and supporting roles with appropriate, unique characterizations, but also helping provide suitable background atmosphere in several scenes.
Rounding out the troupe are Rick Phelps, Jim Marcotte, Chuck Scatolini, Eva Poole Gilson, Noelle Deinken, Dee DiGioia, Maureen McLain Jacoby as the Stage Manager, Blair Lee, Hannah Linaweaver, terrific as Zuzu and Jimmy the Parrot, Barrett Mannetter as Young George and Petey Bailey, Lynda Roberts and Greg Young, who also serves as the show’s announcer.
“A radio play is a fun way to demonstrate a little bit of media history, while presenting family-friendly entertainment,” Dubrovner said. “Today when so many movies are about explosions and crashes, it’s nice to tell a story with basic human values that tugs at the heartstrings.”
All the actors are dressed in period costumes, and the show even comes with some very entertaining period commercials, so watch or just close your eyes and listen.
“It’s a Wonderful Life,” the live radio show, plays through Dec. 18 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m., and Sunday afternoons at 4 p.m. Special ticket pricing: $15, and $12 for Seniors and Students. Reservations: 760.934.6592.
Qualls and Meads
For a California high school to send an athlete to the California State Finals is truly remarkable. For Mammoth High School to send two athletes to State Finals is astronomical.
Two athletes, Mammoth Junior Toby Qualls and Freshman Jody Meads, not only made it to the State Finals, both finished near the top of their respective races.
The course is located in Woodward Park, Clovis, Calif. and is 5k, or 3.1 miles in length with rolling hills. In order to medal and be awarded “All State Champions,” a runner must finish in the top 10.
For Meads, the path to the State Championship had been a whirlwind experience. Only 10 weeks ago, Meads ran her first high school race.
Meads ran the course in a time of 19:22, finished 13th out of 175 runners, and missed being named to the “All State” team by a mere three runners.
This was Qualls’ second year in a row to go to the State Finals. His goal was to finish top ten in order to set himself up to have a chance at winning the State Championship his senior year.
On race day, Qualls met his goal and finished the race eighth out of 182 runners with a time of 15:57. He medaled and made the “All State” team, plus qualified to run on the front line of the Foot Locker, Western Regional Nationals on Dec. 3. (Qualls was entered in the “Seeded Boys Race,” and started at the front of the pack, based upon his previous qualifying times. The seeded race is reserved for only the very fastest qualifying runners. Out of the 218 top runners, Qualls finished 45th with a time of 16:33 for the 5,000 k course. Qualls’ time would have won the Senior Boys and Junior Boys races, and in fact, out of 1,016 high school boy runners for the day, Qualls would have finished 46th.)
Professional running coach, Andrew Kastor, traveled to the State Finals to watch both Qualls and Meads and was very pleased with both Toby’s and Jody’s performances.
Don’t forget that Mammoth Mountain is offering free lift tickets to the public on Friday, Dec. 9 if you simply sign up for My Mammoth. Once signed up visit any MMSA ticket window to redeem your free lift ticket, valid Dec. 9.
According to www.mammothmountain.com, Rollercoaster Express (Chair 4) is now open. Canyon and Eagle lodges are scheduled to open Wednesday, Dec. 14.
Local chef extraordinaire Frederic Pierrel and the Lakefront Restaurant were featured in an online Wall Street Journal article on Dec. 1. The article’s author, David Netto describes his experience at Lakefront as one of two extraordinary, mind-altering dinners he has had in unexpected settings in his lifetime.
“I arrived crunching in snow boots and left in a state of elation,” Netto describes in the article titled, “Dining in the Great Outdoors.” Find the article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204449804577068930245788796.html.