By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a must-watch during the holiday season, and this year it’s live on stage at The Lyric.
Tupelo Community Theatre is bringing the beloved story of George Bailey and the residents of Bedford Falls to life next weekend.
“It’s pretty close” to the movie, said director Mallory Davidson. “There are a few characters missing, a few things changed, but it’s a pretty faithful adaptation.”
“It’s a Wonderful Life” tells the story of George Bailey (John McCustion), a man who constantly puts his big dreams on hold while he takes care of family obligations. He’s suffered a lifetime of disappointments, and when money comes up missing at his family’s Building & Loan, he determines he’s worth more dead than alive. That’s when his guardian angel, Clarence (Bobby Geno), steps in.
“He teaches him that his life really is worth living,” Davidson said.
It’s easy to slip into these iconic roles, said McCustion and Anna Blassingame, who stars as George’s wife Mary. Both are fans of the movie.
“It’s hard not to know Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey,” McCustion said. “I don’t try to be Jimmy Stewart; I just try to bring my own performance. I try to imagine myself in that situation, so a lot of it is me putting myself into George. I wish I was more like George.”
Blassingame knows the movie by heart.
“I’ve tried to put my personality in there,” she said of taking on Donna Reed’s role. “I’m really excited, and slightly nervous, too.”
It’s her first theater role, but as a member of a singing group, she’s used to performing on stage.
She’s ready to bring one of her favorite movies to life.
“Everyone knows the story, so it’s great,” she said. “It’s a story that can warm your heart around Christmas time.”
The family-friendly play teaches life lessons, too.
“It’s such a good story about life and how valuable it is, and how each one of us has so much value,” McCustion said. “George is an inspirational character.”