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It's a Wonderful Life

JAY HORTON
7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 pm Sundays through Dec. 23., Thursday November 29 | $15-$30.
PCPA Brunish Theatre
1111 SW Broadway
 
Stumptown Stages’ new musical adaptation of It's a Wonderful Life certainly arrives with an impressive pedigree. Director Corey Brunish returns to Portland, the recipient of a 2012 Tony for producing Porgy and Bess; Jared Michael Brown played lead in several acclaimed Seattle productions; and Michael Allen Harrison, composer of the delightful and appropriately nostalgic tunes performed by slightly-off-stage live band, has been a mainstay of the local cultural community for decades. Brown captivates as George Bailey, the grudgingly selfless savings-and-loan manager forced to re-examine his existence through heavenly visitation (an ever-twinkling Matthew Barnett plays guardian angel Clarence). Though it’s hardly the first attempt by a regional theater company to set the well-worn tale to song and dance, the nature of the story resists conventional musical treatment. Originally considered a box office disappointment, It's a Wonderful Life enjoyed stunning late-life popularity only after a clerical error skipped copyright renewal, and programming-starved local television stations began scheduling nonstop presentations during the holidays. The film fittingly celebrates this sort of unintended providence, but placing magic moments in proper perspective requires a large cast and cinematic depth of field. Throwing the spotlight on George's unerring moral rectitude during critical decisions lends the musical the air of a fanciful but didactic sermon, rather dispelling the everyman ethos. As family-friendly entertainment meant to divert downtown shoppers, the musical sparkles, but the underlying inspirational message that drove the original remains sadly unwrapped.

Where: PCPA Brunish Theatre
Address: 1111 SW Broadway
Website: www.stumptownstages.com

 
 
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