American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Box Office: 608-588-2361
By Mike Fischer, Forward Theater
VOLUME 29 (DECEMBER 9, 2020): SOMETHING WONDERFUL
In one of two just-released American Players Theatre holiday shows (see pick one below), Tracy Michelle Arnold tags Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life as her favorite holiday movie. Mary MacDonald Kerr, who twice starred at Next Act Theatre in her adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life, says she is “nuts” for Capra’s movie. In this year’s second APT holiday show, Nate Burger looks into the camera and asks whether we love Capra’s movie as much as he does.
Yes, Nate, we do.
As I wrote in one of my reviews of Kerr’s adaptation, the back story of Capra’s great movie may be a bit hokey, but that “doesn’t make it any less believable or inspiring. No matter how often I see it, I walk away with renewed appreciation for what heroes the Baileys are.”
Coming at the end of a devastating Depression and a horrific war, Capra’s populist message was that any of us can be heroes, finding the stuff it takes to make a resounding difference. As Capra himself said in his 1971 autobiography, each and every one of us contains “a living atom of divinity,” which is why “compassion for others, friend or foe, is the noblest of all virtues. Films must be made to say these things, to counteract the violence and the meanness, to buy time to demobilize the hatreds.”
In Capra’s film as in life, we’re at a crossroads every day, making choices about which of our many possible selves we’re going to inhabit – and, in turn, whether we’re going to help build a genuine community like Bedford Falls or live in a dump like Pottersville.