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  It's A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! Reviews
It's A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!
It's A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!

It's A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!
American Blues Theater at Stage 773
Thru - Jan 5, 2019

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Show Information


American Blues Theater at Stage 773

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...American Blues Theater has made the 90-minute piece an annual holiday staple, complete with commercial jingles and candy cane prizes, without letting it dull out into ritual. I was especially aware this year of the intimate tones Gwendolyn Whiteside's Mary uses toward George at crucial moments, suggesting in a way not even Donna Reed did in the original that the pair aren't just teammates in marriage but lovers. (Whiteside will be replaced by Camille Robinson as of December 20.) Zach Kenney creates his own, entirely believable George, John Mohrlein makes a weary villain of rich old Potter, and the easy command of music director Michael Mahler is quietly astonishing."
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Tony Adler



Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...This is a 90 minute production that is treated like the old radio shows were. The actors greet and meet the patrons as they enter the seating area, asking them to fill out forms offering holiday greetings to others (in the audience or possibly listening on the radio). They warm us up with this and then holiday songs where the audience sings-along. They also do some songs and honor a military person ( this is a tradition of The American Blues Theater for all shows). They teach the audience about the "On Air" and "Applause" signs and do some local commercials. In fact the first 15 minutes of the 90 is used to get us into the mood. IT WORKS!"
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Alan Bresloff



Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...A warm nostalgia pervades the theatre at Stage 773, partly because of Grant Sabin’s rich, gold metallic and red velvet-accented period set, festooned with colorful wreaths and Christmas trees; partly a result of Christopher J. Neville’s authentic-looking 1940’s costumes. But mostly this tender sentimentality can be attributed to the sincerity and commitment of the fine company of actors. The residents of Bedford Falls fully emerge in our imaginations, thanks to this outstanding ensemble. Watching the life of a man who sacrifices his own ambitions for the betterment of others is motivating. Tears fill our eyes as we behold an angel finally getting his wings. Frank Capra’s Christmas classic hasn’t looked or sounded this glorious since it first appeared in movie theatres back in 1946. Chicago’s annual American Blues Theater production would’ve made Mr. Capra proud."
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Colin Douglas



Chicagoland Musical Theatre- Highly Recommended

"...It’s a well-tuned machine, to be sure, but not worn out. Quite the contrary; from the get-go, the performers are ingratiating, singing carols, cracking wise, and getting everyone up to speed on how things are going to work out. (Most importantly, applaud when the “applause” sign lights up.)"
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Patrick O’Brien



Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...This third go 'round marks the third different stage I've seen the show on, as American Blues Theater hosts its shows at various venues around the city. But no matter. They could present this one out of the back of a pickup truck, and I'd be there with bells on. In 2016, it was at the Greenhouse Theater Center; in 2017, ABT moved to Stage 773, and the show was in their Thrust theater that year, a theater-in-the-round style venue that gave the feeling of being in a cozy living room. This year, it moved to a more traditional space at Stage 773 (with just as many seats, thankfully), and though it may change stages each year, I'm happy to report it never loses a single bit of its charm."
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Lisa Trifone



The Hawk Chicago- Recommended

"...It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! is an approachable theatrical experience that truly wraps you up in a warm embrace. The ensemble seems genuinely happy to invite the audience in, and their cheer is infectious. Fans of Capra's classic film should love the production just as much as someone for whom the story is completely new. American Blues' production should be added to your list of seasonal traditions."
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Jason Berger



Chicago Theater and Arts- Highly Recommended

"...If you haven’t been invited to a holiday party yet or are just feeling ready to get into the Christmas spirit, you can’t do much better than the American Blues Theater’s staged radio show version of Frank Capra’s classic “It’s a Wonderful Life-Live in Chicago!.”"
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Reno Lovison