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December 3, 2013

‘A Wonderful Life’ production doesn’t disappoint

NORMAN — Deep down, we all knew Henry Potter wouldn’t have a change of heart and return the $8,000 cash deposit that forgetful Uncle Billy mistakenly left on the bank counter.

But in the backs of our minds, maybe, just maybe, the Sooner Theatre would go off script, change the plot of “A Wonderful Life” and surprise the audience. Make us go away thinking that all was well in Bedford Falls and that all evil people can actually change their stripes.

No chance. Director Lisa Fox’s cast stuck to the script adapted from Frank Capra’s film “It’s a Wonderful Life” and didn’t disappoint the audiences this past weekend. The show plays again Friday, Saturday and Sunday and again Dec. 13-15.

It follows last year’s Sooner production of “White Christmas.” Sooner Theatre Executive Director Jennifer Heavner-Baker said the requested show came together, despite some weather-related rehearsal cancellations.

The community cast is a delightful mix of recognizable Sooner veterans who leave their families and day jobs behind for a few weeks for time on the stage and some local theater students and recent graduates.

It’s a heart-warming, nostalgic show, quite different from “The Full Monty” and “Urinetown,” which the Sooner staged earlier this year. Full redemption will come in March with “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

George Bailey, played skillfully by Baylor graduate and local student minister Bryan Partridge, watches as his dreams of traveling the world, going to Cornell and designing big buildings are lost while he works to save the Bailey Building and Loan in the midst of the Great Depression.

He agrees to stay and keep the company solvent while his brother dances, goes to school with his tuition money and marries an out-of-towner.

Even George’s own honeymoon with Mary, played by Edmond school teacher Laura Bartlett, is cut short by a run on the local bank. She makes the best of it with beautiful songs that elevate her role throughout the show.

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