OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee Community Theatre finished up 2023 with a well-loved classic "It’s a Wonderful Life."
Performed as a live radio drama, the show was, unsurprisingly, a hit. "It’s a Wonderful Life" was written by Joe Landry and is set in 1946. George Bailey, played in the film version by Jimmy Stewart, is a young man contemplating suicide. George grew up in a small New York town called Bedford Falls and always dreamed of travelling the world. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he was never able to leave town and instead settled down, eventually marrying and having children. When an unthinkable mistake happens, George feels he has no purpose in life and would be better off dead. An angel is sent from Heaven to prevent this tragedy.
With a cast of nine, each performer played multiple parts.
In the starring role of George Bailey, Paul Crews played both young George and present-day George. Though it was hard to imagine anyone playing a part so well done by Jimmy Stewart, Crews did an excellent job.
James Garner, who has been instrumental in keeping the theatre going after Ron and Jacque Hayes retired, played 12 different roles. If you sat in the audience with your eyes closed, you would have sworn there were 12 different men playing the parts.
Young Josh Boon played 11 roles and was especially convincing as the crotchety old Mr. Potter.
Robyn Garner played both George Bailey’s mother and his sister-in-law, and though her parts were small, she had the audience rolling when she spoke with a New York accent and snorted when she laughed.
Jane Kaufman Robards played George’s wife Mary and was quite convincing as his helpmate and mother of his children. In addition to playing Mrs. Bailey, she also played young Mary and Matilda.
Robin Newman did a wonderful job playing Mary’s mother, who obviously was no fan of George’s. She also played Mrs. Thompson and Hatch.
Tina Welborn, as always, played her comedic roles beautifully. Welborn is no stranger to the stage and always leaves the audience laughing. She played Violet and Sadie.
Joseph Welborn, Tina’s son, played Pete, young Harry and Tommy. For such a young fellow, he did a great job with projecting and staying in character.
Rosalie Alford played young Violet, Janie and Zuzu and was convincing in all three roles and looked adorable in her big white bow.
Also onstage as sound technician was Grace Morton.
The show was directed by Joey Marcinek, and Tina Welborn was the assistant director. Laura Murray handled lights, and Jane Kaufman and Caroline Crews took care of photography and marketing.
Following the holidays, the community theater will be auditioning for its upcoming production of Harvey by Mary Chase.
The Okeechobee Community Theatre can be found at Okeechobeecommunitytheatre.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/okeechobeecommunitytheatre. They can be reached via email at Okeecommunitytheatre@gmail.com.
Shows are held at the Okeechobee Freshman Campus behind Golden Corral in the spring, fall and winter.