It’s A Wonderful Life: Live at the Biograph!
‘Tis the season in Chicago theater. Boy oh boy, ’tis the season. Ever since the Goodman proved that a recurring show like “A Christmas Carol” could be both a financial cornerstone as well as a gateway for new audiences, the entire Chicago theater world has jumped on the bandwagon, with dozens of upbeat holiday shows filling the Advent calendar (except, notably, Steppenwolf, who offers something of an antidote to the overdose of cheer each season at this time). Thankfully, most companies have found their way to pretty decent shows, after some overly saccharine productions in the early days, which means you’re unlikely to go wrong anywhere. Our current infatuation is American Blues Theater’s staging of the radio play version of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” which they’d originated as the founding ensemble of American Theater Company. (They’ve since parted ways, though ATC also continues to produce a respected version of “It’s A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play.”) Set in the beautiful new Richard Christiansen Theater at Victory Gardens Biograph, last year’s American Blues production was full of authentic, old-fashioned Christmas cheer, surging perhaps with extra adrenaline as it represented the rebirth of this beloved Chicago ensemble. Regardless, director Marty Higginbotham really knows how to make this show work: he was the original director at ATC in 2004 and has helmed the show ever since. With a lovable cast, a Foley artist on stage recreating the golden era of radio sounds and a free-flowing high spirit, we defy you to walk out with your Grinch face on. We’ll be the ones with tears on our cheeks.
American Blues Theater at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater
2433 North Lincoln
“A Christmas Carol” at Goodman Theatre
170 North Dearborn
Best of Chicago 2010