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It's A Wonderful Life
a Holiday Drama
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by James W. Rodgers

COMPANY : New Dawn Theater [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Red Clay Theatre
ID# 2580

SHOWING : December 06, 2007 - December 23, 2007

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Have you ever wondered what impact your life has had on your friends and family? Did
you ever think that you made such a difference in someones life, that without you, their
lives would be vastly different?
Well, with the help of Clarence, "Angel Second Class", George Bailey got to see just
what a difference he made in the lives of everyone he knew in Bedford Falls.
Having grown up with loving family and good friends, George never realized his influence in others lives. Until one day, the evil Mr. Potter threatened to take it all away
and ruin everyones lives forever. What could George do? Could his wife Mary, or his
Uncle Billy help show him the way, or are they caught in this old misers trap?
Come join us and watch the story unfold as we see that there is magic in Christmas if
you believe in yourself and have love in your heart.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director / Sound Tech Sherry Ingsbritsen
Stage Manage/Mrs. Hatch Janel Stover
Lighting Tech Rick Thompson
Aunt Tilley Debbie Bush
Harry Bailey Todd Denson
George Bailey Martin Gravely
Janie Bailey Ariel Gravely
Mary Hatch Aliza Gravely
Tommy/Newspaper Boy Martin Gravely III
Mr. Potter's Secretary Glory Hanna
Miss Andrews Sandra Havriluk
Mother (Ma) Bailey Marsha Hunter
Mr. Martini George Kraynak
Henry Potter Chuck Mason
Mrs. Thompson Corey McHargue
Uncle Billy Steven Miller
Mr. Gower Chuck Miller
Violet Peterson Barbara Moras
Bert/Mr. Welch Charles David Puckett
Younge George Chandler Richards
Mrs. Martini Cathy Seith
Zuzu Bailey Alexis Seith
Pete Bailey Journey Stanfield
Emma/Miss Carter Nichole White
Clarence Odbody/Sam Wainwright Mike Yow
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

great show
by jeanie125
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
4.5
I am not sure what show you saw, or what you are thinking. You are certainly entitled to you opinion, though slanderous and evidently personally attacking as it is. I saw this show and thought it was great. The actors worked very well together. I came away with a good feeling of holiday spirit and enthusiasm. I enjoyed the characters in the show and thought they brought humor and life to an already wonderful story. I especially liked the angel clarence and mr potter, mean as he was. I think the cast did an excellent job and they deserve applause from all. The background sets were charming and worked well. I have seen many of New Dawn's shows and I will continue to support them and see their shows. I think they do a great job, and considering they are a community theater, and not paid, they deserve even more than this. I have never come away disppointed when seeing their shows and I hope they stick around for many years to come. To those who listen to the nasty remarks of the earlier review person, please ignore them. They obviously have a bone to pick, and unfortunately, it takes away from the hard work that this cast has most definitly put into this show. PLEASE go see this show while you have the chance. YOU WILL NOT BE SORRY. The night I went, the theater seats were packed, so get tickets quick. Good luck New Dawn. I will tell all my friends to come. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Listen... by cuzimthemomE
If you can't take the heat, get out of the theatre --community, professional or otherwise. The fact is that when you put yourself out there, you stand the risk of not being liked by everyone. That is the nature of the beast.

It is disappointing when you work hard only to meet with criticism. However, this should be looked upon as an opportunity to improve the quality of theatre throughout Gwinnett. Detach yourself personally and look at this objectively.

This is not a death sentence, but an opportunity.

So there, I've said my piece; except...

God bless us everyone:)
Wonderful Life - Terrible Production
by GTSBPBTSBP
Sunday, December 16, 2007
1.0
I don’t ever write reviews for shows I’ve seen, mostly out of a lack of motivation. I’ve seen good shows, and I’ve seen bad shows, but nothing that inspired me to take the time and effort to write a review. In the case of this production, however, I couldn’t keep it inside.
First of all, there is a misconception that needs to be clarified. In the newspaper, on the Red Clay Theatre website, and on the marquee outside of the theatre, this production is billed as “Red Clay Theatre Presents”. Nowhere did I see a mention of the true perpetrators of this embarrassment – New Dawn Theatre. I was not the only one who was unaware that Red Clay Theatre didn’t do this show – the couple in front of me commented in surprise when they saw “New Dawn” printed on the oversized program. If I had known for one minute that this was a New Dawn show, I would never have paid $22.00 for a ticket. The Aurora Theatre charges approximately the same ticket price – for professional productions. I have been subjected to two other New Dawn shows, and not only is New Dawn not professional, they are a poor example of community theatre.
But I digress. On to this particular New Dawn production – “It’s A Wonderful Life”. I’ll start with the technical aspects, as they are the most forgivable sins, given time and budget concerns community theatres usually struggle with. The set itself was dull and purely functional. There was no artistry, theme, or vision in the set pieces. A good set will not only serve the production, but enhance it. This set merely served. The same can be said of the lighting. Again, functional, although the lights were not well placed. Many of the actors eyes disappeared into shadow. Many community theatre groups would envy the lighting setup available at Red Clay, but New Dawn failed to take advantage of the opportunity to create a lighting scheme that would be part of the art, instead of merely illuminating it. The sound cues were poor, often late, and often jarring. Technically, I give the show a C.
As for the acting and directing, they make the deficiencies on the technical side pale in comparison. The director, Ms. Sherry Ingbritsen, could be charged with dereliction of duty. There was a complete lack of any evidence that this show even had a director. The blocking was minimal, consisting mainly of actors standing awkwardly next to each other, and then occasionally pacing back and forth for effect. Although I would never critique a child’s performance in a community theatre show, in this case I couldn’t critique any of the children actors even if I wanted to. In the two scenes the Bailey children appeared in, Ms. Ingbritsen seemed to hold close to the adage “Children should be seen and not heard.” In this instance, she kept the children shoved in the back corner of the stage, with George and Mary playing downstage, in front of the children. The children really could barely be seen OR heard as George and Mary paced back and forth in front of them, cutting off their few lines, and sending the message that the children and what they had to say were unimportant to the play. Anyone with real theatre experience knows that every role is important, and no role should be shrugged into the background. I could write pages on my view of what importance the Bailey children played in the script, but we would be here all night.
Speaking of characters whose roles were relegated to unimportant status by sheer lack of direction, we were into the second act before I realized that we hadn’t seen Bert and Ernie! It took some thinking on my part, but I eventually realized that the characters had been changed to Bert and Emma, and given absolutely no personality to make the stand out from the crowd of characters onstage. It takes a special something to make Bert and Ernie irrelevant.
Moving on to the more central characters, we’ll start with George Bailey, as portrayed by Martin Gravely. According to the board member bios in the program – which were given twice the prominence of the cast member bios – Mr. Gravely is the vice-president of New Dawn Theatre. Which may explain why he continues to take lead roles in their productions when there is much greater talent to be had in Gwinnett County. His George Bailey was overblown, inconsistent, and completely lacking in any sincerity. We begin the play with the scene of George and Clarence on the bridge, where we are supposed to believe that George is about to jump. Instead, he looks to be inspecting the bridge structure. He lacked any chemistry with Mary, which is ironic, since she is played by his real-life wife, Aliza Gravely. There was no passion between them – in fact, they appeared to avoid touching each other. A good director would have chipped away the block of ice between them and given us reason to believe these two were falling in love.
A good director also would have brought out the clear potential in Mike Yow’s Clarence. He was utterly charming on the bridge, but as soon as he stepped off the bridge, he affected this odd shuffle that completely distracted us from his portrayal of the angel. If this was the actor’s choice, it was Ms. Ingbritsen’s job to fix it. If it was Ms. Ingbritsen’s choice, it was a poor one. Whatever was trying to be conveyed by that shuffle did not get conveyed. I would have liked to see what Mr. Yow could have done with that role with some direction.
One of the bright spots in the production was Chuck Miller as Mr. Gower. This very talented actor did a fantastic job with his pivotal scene – when young George prevents him from poisoning a child. Other than the poorly executed “smacking of the ear”, it was a good scene.
Another talented actor that managed to rise above the lack of direction this play suffered was Todd Denson as Harry Bailey. Full of charm and vigor, Mr. Denson really brought Harry Bailey to life. Again, better directing could have enhanced his performance, but he did a splendid job with what he had.
Heading back down to the disappointing end of the cast, Violet Peterson was not only a disappointment, but an embarrassment. According to the program, the role of Violet was to be played by Barbara Moras. But the woman who came on stage was very clearly not the woman in the photo of Barbara Moras. In fact, judging by the two pictures of Ms. Ingbritsen in the program, I’m fairly confident that it was Ms. Ingbritsen herself who played the role of Violet, although no announcement was made to this effect. Ms. Ingbritsen as Violet was hard to watch. Not only was she clearly much older than the Mr. Gravely, whose character she was supposed to be holding a torch for, but she brought no charm or seductiveness to the role. She wandered on stage in a large fur coat that swallowed her whole, whined out her lines, and wandered back offstage. I would be interested to know what Ms. Moras would have done with the role, and why we were not treated to her version.
I do want to comment on Glory Hanna, who usually disappoints me, but who managed her role as Potter’s secretary with a surprising understated comedy.
The last specific actor I want to comment on is Steven Miller as Uncle Billy. Steven Miller has long been one of my favorite community theatre actors, but he really disappointed in this show. I saw none of the commitment to the character that I have come to expect from Mr. Miller, and he seemed to lack his usual presence onstage. I don’t know if he was weary from trying to do a show without a director, or if he was just off with this role. I’m looking forward to seeing him return to the quality of acting I usually see from him.
This review may seem harsh for a community theatre production, but here is where I stand – I was asked to pay the same ticket price as I would for an Aurora production, therefore I will hold this show to the same standards as I would an Aurora show. This is not to say that the Aurora never disappoints, but New Dawn consistently disappoints – even by community theatre standards. Judging by the program, it seems that Red Clay is going to wholly rely on New Dawn for their season. This is a big mistake, Red Clay, and I would rethink this arrangement, before it permanently tarnishes your reputation. I know I won’t return to Red Clay as long as it is cozied up with New Dawn. If Red Clay wants to charge those ticket prices, they need to hire a talented director who can put together the right cast, and guide the production to it’s best. My companions felt the same – when I asked them their opinion after the show, they initially hesitated, claiming they “don’t know much about theatre”, they just like to watch. I assured them the opinion of the audience is the most important opinion, because we don’t create theatre for ourselves, we do it to share it with the audience. They were sorely disappointed in the quality of the production, and probably won’t return to Red Clay either.
I only gave this show as high as 1 out of respect for those actors who managed to shine in spite their director.
ETA - I forgot to mention Mr. Potter as played by Chuck Mason. As with Mr. Yow, there was real potential there, especially as evidenced by the scene where he discovers that Uncle Billy has just deposited $8,000 in his lap. He really shone in that moment, and I think he could have done great things with that role if he had been directed.
Also, a shout-out to Janel Stover, who took her offstage role as Mrs. Hatch and really did quite a lot with it. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Good Review by Richard Long
I wanted to say that this was an excellent review. Even though your comments were extremely critical, they were to the point and well thought out. Great job. These are the kind of negative reviews I like to read. I will say, be prepared. You're about to get hit with about 10 rebuttals from people either tied to the show, the theatre, or friends/family of the people involved. They will tell you that you're an idiot or have an agenda of some sort. It happens. They take things so personally that they feel they have to defend them or attack you as a person. So, your review will be removed quickly to avoid any confrontation that escalates. Just thought I'd forewarn you...
$22.00??? by Jessica27
When I saw the title of this review I got all ready to post in the defense of this community theater because I love community theater and I think it's very important to have around and I DON'T think it's fair to judge them the same as professional. But when I saw that New Dawn was charging TWENTY TWO DOLLARS for their shows, I changed my tune. I think you are 100% correct in saying that if they are going to charge professional prices, then they need to be up to those standards. Sheesh!! So...good review.
- Jess
A well thought out review - and most likely accurate. by MeisnerGuy
I give a round of applause for this well written review. GTSBPBTSBP didn't like the show, and gave good solid reasons as to why not. I'm sure that the review will be attacked, but it shouldn't. I haven't seen this show, but I have seen a number of New Dawn's shows before and there is an overwhelming lack of a sense of direction and the sets are always plain and lighting atrocious. When I found out how expensive it was I knew not to waste my money. Usually Ms. Ingbritsen is good about hiring solid actors who can find their way, but apparently not in this case.

The main reason for my comment is to comment on the comment from Martin of GA (who I assume is George Bailey). He says, "On behalf of the crew, it's all about fun... none of us were paid for our hard work, therefore, once it stops becoming fun, it's just work." Yes, I agree that when you are not being paid for working in theater, you should at least be enjoying what you do. But you have to take a little more responsibility for the overall production. It takes a lot of work, hard work to get a show up and running. And if you are doing it just "for fun" and you let things fall by the wayside like lighting design, set design and directon, then maybe you shouldn't be running a production company and you should just be working under others who have the passion and drive to do the work that isn't always "fun".

This has been discussed on this site before, and I think its theaters like New Dawn who put up shoddy productions like this that gives community theater a bad rap.

My 2 Cents

MG

(And PS - the point of having aliases is so that folks can give honest opinions with out it being thrown back at them personally. Not every one is as confident as Dedalus and Okely, but we do have valid points to make everyonce and a while. As long as they are honest and articulate they shouldn't be dismissed.)
All points considered ... by Gristmills
... the prime lesson to be learned here is to know both your ‘product’ and the demographics of your patronage well-enough to have priced the tickets more accordingly (especially given the recent scathing article revealing the extension of Red Clay’s mere $100/month rent!), and thus, NOT subject the hard-wrought efforts of your all-volunteer cast and crew to such objective criticism by having "tossed" them improperly-outfitted into the pit of the big leagues.

Denny Wood


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