Dane Matthews plays Mr. Potter and Jeremy Gobillot plays George Bailey in the Sightlines Theatre production of It’s A Wonderful Life. (Henry Chan photographer)

It’s A Wonderful Life coming to the stage in Maple Ridge

Sightlines Theatre putting on It’s A Wonderful Life.

The heartwarming Christmas story of a man who falls into a deep despair thinking that life has passed him by only to be saved by a guardian angel is coming to the stage in Sightlines Theatre’s production of It’s A Wonderful Life.

George Bailey puts his life dreams on hold as time and again he decides to help the community in the tiny town of Bedford Falls. As a child he saves his brother’s life after he falls through thin ice while sledding. An accident that would effect the hearing in George’s left ear and cause him to stay in Bedford Falls during the Second World War when his friends went off to fight. George would eventually take over his father’s position as president the Bailey Bros. Building and Loan after his dad passes away. The story comes to a head when his Uncle Billy loses $8,000 on the way to deposit the money in the bank on the morning of Christmas eve. George needs a loan to keep the Building and Loan open and when he can’t get one from the mean banker Henry F. Potter, he becomes suicidal and wishes he was never born. That’s when he meets Clarence Odbody who claims to be his guardian angel. Clarence takes him up on his wish and shows him what would have happened to Bedford Falls had George not been born.

The Thomas Haney secondary theatre program is one of the first high schools Canada to get the rights to perform this play. Until now only professional theatre companies were able to put it on.

Technical director Jeannette Baxter, a Grade 12 student at the school, says it is a difficult play to put on due to the show’s length. Her role is to coordinate all of the technical aspects of the show like helping with props, costumes, set pieces, lighting and sound.

“So throughout the show I will be in the lighting and sound booth helping to call the cues and helping to figure out all the problems that arise,” explained Baxter.

“There is a lot more cues and more props and all of our set is on and off the set at one point so that takes a lot more coordination backstage in figuring that out,” said the experienced technical director about the fourth show she has worked on.

One of the things she enjoys about working behind the scenes is being able to solve problems that arise on the fly. Like the 1920’s wheelchair they had to create.

“We ended up using a bent wood rocking chair and putting that on carts with bicycle wheels on the side,” she said, adding that to make it roll they had to build two troughs for the rockers to sit in and attach castors to the bottoms of those.

Grade 12 student Kelsey Lucente plays the role of George Bailey’s mother, a role also played by fellow actor Jaden Dyer.

“She is very loving and motherly. She has two kids George and Harry and I think like throughout the play that the family has very strong bonds with their mother,” said Lucente.

Lucente had never seen the movie until she learned her school was putting on the production.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be as dark as it was. I thought it was supposed to be a happy Christmas movie but it kind of opened my eyes to how my life really is,” said the Thomas Haney student.

The students have been working on the production since September and Lucente who has been working on productions with Sightlines since Grade 9, said that this has been a very challenging one.

“Especially for George, the main character, he has so many lines,” said Lucente.

“He’s had since September to learn all his lines and his blocking and he’s been amazing at it,” she continued saying that a lot of the cast crew are brand new to the job and they’ve had to learn very fast what to do.

“The girls who do costume crew they are brand new to it. They’ve never gotten costume crew before and they got costumes which is 1920’s to 1940’s for everyone by themselves. That was amazing,” continued Lucente.

There are more than 30 cast in the show. With crew there are more than 80 students involved.

But Lucente loves the message behind the story the most.

“You should be thankful for what you have. Things are not always as bad as they seem to be there’s always something in someones life to be thankful for,” said Lucente.

Sightlines Theatre production of of the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life runs Dec. 6 to Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. with an extra 12:30 p.m. matinee on Dec. 6 at Thomas Haney secondary, 23000 116 Ave. in Maple Ridge.

Tickets can be purchased first come first serve at the door for the evening performances, although reservations can still be made for both shows on Dec. 6.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Special group rates are available for ten or more people.

To reserve tickets call 604-463-2001, local 2156 or email sevans@sd42.ca.

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Jeremy Gobillot plays George Bailey, Bailey plays Zuzu Bailey and Hallie Kompa plays Mary Hatch-Bailey in the Sightlines Theatre production of It’s A Wonderful Life. (Henry Chan photographer)

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