photo submitted

Ignition Theatre’s It’s a Wonderful Life is a ‘must see’ holiday treat

Shows run until Dec. 15th at Red Deer’s Nickle Studio

Ignition Theatre’s current production of the classic It’s a Wonderful Life is, without a doubt, one on those ‘can’t miss’ holiday shows.

The show ran about three times several years back, and is a welcome holiday offering that is slated to run until Dec. 15th in the Nickle Studio (located in the Memorial Centre).

Curtain is at 7:30 p.m.

Directed by Dustin S. Lawrence and adapted by Tony Palermo, the show features a stellar cast who bring the compelling and engaging production to life.

A film version of It’s a Wonderful Life was released in 1946 starring Jimmy Stewart in the lead role. It was based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift which was written by Philip Van Doren in 1939.

Most would be familiar with the storyline – the generous and good-hearted George Bailey never quite makes it out of his hometown to pursue bigger and better things.

He marries and has a family but lands in the family business he’s tried so hard to extricate himself from. Dream after dream has gone unpursued, but he carries on as a responsible, kind citizen who is constantly putting other’s needs before his own.

Suddenly things turn truly desperate in his business, and facing unbearable hardship, he considers taking his own life.

Enter Clara the guardian angel, sent to save George and by doing so, earn her wings.

Clara shows George what his hometown would be like had he never been born, and it’s just miserable. George has no idea the powerful impact for good that he’s had on so many lives.

After this revelation, he’s renewed, reinvigorated and filled with gratitude.

Running at the Nickle Studio through to Dec. 16th, this terrifically-rendered interpretation showcases one of the finest ensemble casts I’ve ever seen in all my years reviewing local plays.

First of all, can we talk about Ryan Mattila in the lead role of the worn-down, beleaguered George Bailey?

I’ve seen Mattila in many shows over the years and not once, not ever, has he failed to nail each and every role he’s tackled.

I know, this perhaps sounds like an exaggeration.

But there’s something absolutely extraordinary about his ability to inject so much heart, humour, power and poignancy into performance after performance.

I also can’t think of a better actor to play George Bailey. Mattila simply ‘is’ George Bailey, and the stark emotional levels he conquers in this moving portrayal are frankly hard to describe or capture in words. ‘Mesmerizing’ might come close.

Everyone else knocks it out of the park as well.

Debby Allan is always completely charming and so funny, and as Clara the angel, she’s just spot on at every turn.

There aren’t many who have the irresistible likability that Allan exudes, or the charisma that she effortlessly brings to her roles time and again.

She’s a delight to watch from the play’s start all the way through.

Much of the other cast plays multiple parts to perfection, particularly Tara Rorke, Craig Scott, Paul Boultbee, Perry Mill and Carla Falk. Suzanne Hermary is also the warm-hearted, perfect Mary Hatch and eventual devoted wife to George.

And the always entertaining Keith Ainscough makes for an outstanding ‘boss’ of the angels department up in heaven.

Congratulations must go of course go to director Dustin S. Lawrence, who has masterfully brought it all together so well.

The show, divided into three parts, flows along at a brisk but comfortable pace.

And as a ‘radio drama’ it’s an engaging and refreshing take on what has become a hugely popular Christmastime movie tradition. You find your imagination kicking in as the actors utilize their exceptional vocal talents to breathe life into the legendary story.

The Nickle Studio, although small, actually works really well for this production with a comfortable, spread out cabaret seating arrangement as well.

Ignition Theatre staged this show several times years back, and it always sparkled, but I don’t remember being as affected as I was this time around. Kudos to all involved for providing Red Deer and Central Alberta with such a rich, joyful and very meaningful holiday offering.

I hope that It’s a Wonderful Life becomes a holiday tradition in the City, and receives the solid community support that it – and so much of what unfolds on our Red Deer stages – deserves.

Tickets are available at the door or by visiting

Just Posted

Team Alberta ends Games strongly with 44 medals in week one

Alberta is currently sitting in second place of the medal standings

Jayda Monilaws raises over $7,000 of cupcakes for Central Alberta Humane Society

This is the most the 10-year-old Red Deerian has raised so far

PHOTOS: Alberta male team takes silver in Winter Games relay speed skating

Alberta was close behind Quebec in the team relay speed skating finals

WATCH: Pet therapy brings calmness to Winter Games athletes

Canada Winter Games in Red Deer continue on until March 2nd

Jayda Monilaws is selling cupcakes again for Central Alberta Humane Society

The 10-year-old Red Deerian is selling cupcakes today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Child advocacy centre raising funds through Dream Home Lottery

The child advocacy centre in Red Deer uses its resources to help kids all over Central Alberta

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Sylvan Lake’s Megan Cressey misses Freestyle Skiing Big Air podium

Alberta’s Jake Sandstorm captured silver in the men Freestyle Skiing Big Air contest

Most Read