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Nashoba Drama Updates ‘Wonderful Life’… Nov. 12

By Ann Needle

Marianna Sardella (l) as Cousin Eustace) and  Jackie Cannon (Cousin Tilly).  Jonathan Daisy; DaisyDesignPhotography.com

Marianna Sardella (l) as Cousin Eustace) and Jackie Cannon (Cousin Tilly). Jonathan Daisy; DaisyDesignPhotography.com

The holidays are one time when Americans pine for the old traditions over the often shinier and savvier new offerings. Nashoba Drama knows that well; this year’s fall play, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” was last on the Nashoba Regional High School stage 7 years ago.

“It’s one of those shows that I do like to do again, and it fits into the time of year so well,” said Nashoba Drama Director Bill Grady. As with past fall productions, “It’s a Wonderful Life” will run the weekend before    Thanksgiving (November 21 through 23).

For those who have missed the many television reruns of the 1946 movie directed by Frank Capra, “It’s a Wonderful Life” portrays George Bailey, a small-town savings and loan manager contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve 1945. Bailey has been driven to the brink by his nemesis/town banker-rich man Henry Potter, who is threatening to have Bailey arrested because of a bank error committed by Bailey’s absent-minded Uncle Billy.

As bleak as the plot line appears, Angel Second Class Clarence Oddbody is sent from heaven to help Bailey see just how dark life would have been for so many if Bailey had not been born. The stakes are pretty high for Oddbody, too: If he saves Bailey, he may finally earn his “wings” after more than 200 years.

Stow can expect to see plenty of its students throughout the play, including Sean Bannon, Cam Donahue, Hayley Giovinazzo, and Marianna Sardella in featured roles.

In an interesting twist, perhaps the biggest role for Stow goes to Hale Middle School seventh grader Douglas Meeker, who will portray young George Bailey in flashback scenes. In Les Miserables, Meeker played Gavroche, the boy who fights with the rebels at the barricades. (Meeker assured fans he expects to continue acting when he arrives at Nashoba.)

Not All is Tradition
There are some changes to the play from the 2007 version. Bill Grady explained that next week’s production will be about 40 minutes longer than the 90-minute show Nashoba audiences saw back then, expanding from about eight to 32 scenes. This version, true to the original movie script, was not available 7 years ago — and it left out some key scenes movie-goers were expecting, he said.

These missing portions included the flashback of Bailey rescuing his brother, Harry, from a frozen pond when they were children, resulting in Bailey’s damaged hearing; later on in that version, it was hard to tell where Bailey’ hearing loss came from without seeing the movie. Also returned to the script are the endearing voiceovers throughout of conversations between Oddbody and St. Joseph.

Other changes are what audiences should expect when actors interpret any role. Perhaps the most striking is NRHS sophomore Sam Keith’s portrayal of George Bailey as the angry, scared soul called for in the script.

As beloved as Jimmy Stewart was as Bailey, he brought a splash of innocence to the character that made it hard to believe he would ever jump off that bridge. With Keith, one has faith that he will hurl himself over. <p>And when, in a moment of desperation, he tells the bumbling Uncle Billy, “Someone will be going to jail, and it’s not going to be me,” it’s surprising that Billy doesn’t run for the next train out of town.

Overall, Grady reported that fans of the story should not be disappointed, given, “Fans expect it not to change.”

Performances are Friday and Saturday nights, November 21 and 22, at 7:30pm; and Sunday afternoon, November 23, at 2pm. Tickets will be sold online in advance and at the door:  $10 for seniors and students, $14 for adults. Any questions should be directed to Hilda or Emmitt Brewington, (978) 779-9995, or go to www.NashobaDrama.com for tickets and more information.

Junior cast members are (l-r): Jonathan Castner, Jimmy Webster, Beckett Storey, Stow's Douglas Meeker, Michael Kozloski, Brooke Lindsay,  Amelia Jones, and Gracie O'Leary (missing from the photo).                    Jonathan Daisy; DaisyDesignPhotography.com

Junior cast members are (l-r): Jonathan Castner, Jimmy Webster, Beckett Storey, Stow’s Douglas Meeker, Michael Kozloski, Brooke Lindsay, Amelia Jones, and Gracie O’Leary (missing from the photo). Jonathan Daisy; DaisyDesignPhotography.com

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