It’s a Wonderful Life debuts as the first production of the school year

by Sarah Perez

A NEW BEGINNING: Clarence, played by sophomore Rhema Hooper is able to become an angel after helping George Bailey see the importance of his life. It’s A Wonderful Life has been in production at West Broward since early September this school year. Photo By Gillian Stewart

Festive lights dazzle the auditorium. Christmas trees disseminate from the lobby to the stage. The sound of cheerful Christmas carols are heard soaring across the stage as the cast of West Broward’s drama program performs the first of the school year’ productions, It’s a Wonderful Life. 

It’s a Wonderful Life takes place during the 1940s in a small town named Bedford Falls, focusing on an overwhelmed George Bailey, who considers taking his own life. However, a guardian angel named Clarence is sent down from heaven to save Bailey and resurrect his happiness. Although the production is a play, there are musical elements carefully woven into the acts that carefully wrap the bow on the holiday theme of the performance.

    “The audience can definitely be able to see the dedication of our entire cast and crew during our performance,” said senior stage manager Riley Nieves. “They’ll get to experience an array of characters and their growth as well as set design and costuming that aim to immerse you in a 1940s Christmas setting.”

    Leading character George Bailey, played by senior Noah Levin, draws the audience into the play. Levin brings light to the deeply confused and hurt side of the character’s aspects while still coming off as a truly kind person, which deeply inherits the iconic character’s quality of complex emotion. George was not the only one to capture audience. Uncle Billy (played by senior Anthony Meijias) gave comedic relief to the play with funny side lines and the character’s wacky personality.

“I was so happy to play George for It’s A Wonderful Life,” Levin said. “I got to transform into George and bring the character to life to the audience, showing them George’s life and  struggles from childhood to adulthood.”

Other Leading character, Clarence, played by sophomore Rhema Hooper, provides a kind “helping-hand” and motherly figure to Bailey that brings the heart-warming aspect of the play to life. Clarence shows the impact George has on the residents of Bedford Falls. The audience gets to see Clarence’s witty remarks and the friendship between the two leading characters grow throughout each act.

“The play and also acting as Clarence has been for the past months,” Hooper said. “It was fun to play around with the setup of the play too. The costumes, the colors, and the hairstyle all really make the show.”

    The set design and costumes immersed the audience into the 1940s era. The cast members did a tasteful job bringing West Broward to the decade. With the costumes comes also the music adding on to the era. The play adds an ensemble cast played by drama and chorus members. The group sing christmas classics such as “Joy to the World” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” to bring viewers to Christmas in 1945.

               “I especially love George Bailey’s house set because it has such a homey feel and has a lot of 1940s elements, such as the record player and the black and white pictures,” said senior Chorus Vice- President Abigail Jones. “The music especially in the background also adds a 1940s feel in the play.”

The diversity of the casting leaves the audience with people to connect to, as well as people and characters to be inspired by. Cast members of all ages are represented, as well as a myriad of touching elements that everyone can feel encouraged by.

It’s a Wonderful Life connects to all ages. Young people can connect with young people,” Hooper said. “However, adults have come up to me, saying they were really touched and almost in tears by how we were playing our characters. People really love the story of it, so it was amazing to have such an impact on an audience of adults.”

It’s a Wonderful Life has touched and inspired many who came to see it. The sets, costumes, and fantastic acting are very much prominent in the first production of the year. In the future, the drama program will be producing the classic musical Anything Goes.

“The play was a great addition to the holiday season,” said Drama teacher Amy Nesmith. “It is just in time for the holiday season considering our show is just before winter break. My students bring light to a holiday classic to an adult along with a younger audience.”

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