Steve Murray's play,"This Wonderful Life" is right on time. It's a wonderful holiday show to welcome Rogue Machine Theatre back to Hollywood. The Theatre has been taking it in the shorts for almost two years. Enough is enough!
What I have loved about the shows that John P. Flynn and his merry band of artists have produced over the past several years is that they take chances and seldom play it safe. RMT has produced theatre pieces that our community can truly be proud of.
Joe Stern's Matrix Theatre, snuggled down toward at the westerly end of Melrose (if you get to Fairfax, you've gone too far!), has been home to a broad variety of professional productions over many, many years. From Steven Kent's "Julius Ceasar" to Linda Purl in "A Doll's House" and the amazing "Neighbors" by Branden Jacobs Jenkins, this space has welcomed local audiences to sold out evenings of solid theatre.
How can one actor bring the entire cast of Capras classic film to life all by himself? (In the voice of SNL's Master Thespian Jon Lovitz) "ACTING!!!" and a love of giving voice to the film that most of us have see a dozen times or more. Fair warning: it's a trip down memory lane. If a little treacle is a turn off. Well, too bad for you.
As Leo Marks flies into the breech, an old friend of mine comes briefly to life: Ellen Corby, whose on screen moment, settling for $17.50 at a run on the bank, takes about ten seconds to turn the tide when all of Bedford Falls rushes to the Baily Building and Loan to grab their dough. (Remember when Uncle Billy lost the eight grand and Potter, rht cur.. wound up with it, but Potter gave it all back? Oh Wait..)
I have favorite characters when seeing the film for the umpteenth time. It'sbetter in black and white, but director, Drew Barr (heavy credits!) and Leo Marks (also a heavy hitter) bring the story to life in more or less living color. The key to the success of this production is the genuine love that Marks has for the characters created by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerlig & director Frank Capra. Marks presents them not as parodies but genuine people. Even Violet (Gloria Graham, a rave fave for me) flips her hair and vamps when George compliments her on her dress. "Oh, this old thing.." He's no Gloria Graham, but the moment works.
Finding Clarence (Henry Travers in the film) is tough, but Marks nails Lionel Barrymore as Potter and as the familiar story rolls along.. a sort of Koken, Teak Piegdon, shows up with props that give the show more physical substance. I love the banister knob.
The use of audio and video create a couple of technical moments that are okay, but may be gilding the lily. Marks holds the stage full of opening night energy and sells it like a trooper. His energy alone is worth the price of admission. And.. if you are a softy, there are moments of deep love that got to me.
What a treat.
From start to finish, it's all Mr. Marks calling the tune. Beautiful tech by Rick Martin's Set & Lighting / Projection Design. Christopher Moscatiello's Sound Design mostly works.
Drew Barr's direction makes full use of the unusual stage at The Matrix.
"This Wonderful Life" is a must see. Treat the family and friends to a special evening with a quick trip down memory lane: a theatrical tribute to the best Christmas movie ever.
(There are no BB guns in this production.)
The information below is copied from the invitation to review. The lines are underlines.. Go see this show!
THIS WONDERFUL LIFE
by Steve Murray
Plays at 8pm, Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays, Wednesdays
12/17, 12/18, 12/20, 12/22, 12/23 12/27, 12/31, 1/1 & 1/3/20223pm Sundays 12/19, 12/26, & 1/2/2022Closing Monday, January 3, 2022
Rogue Machine, at the Matrix Theatre,
7657 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
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.