It happens every year around this time — the ritual, hot chocolate-enhanced, pajama-clad viewing of the heartwarming 1946 holiday movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart as downtrodden everyman George Bailey.
Before pushing “play” on the DVD machine, you can learn more about the man behind the famous film, director Frank Capra — himself an underdog.
“Closing Credits: An Evening With Frank Capra” will be presented “table read”-style Tuesday, Nov. 13, by Mesa Encore Theatre.
Co-written by Mesa’s Loren Marsters, the new play explores the life of Capra, an immigrant who came to this country in 1903 by ship from Italy and wound up working with Hollywood giants such as Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Bette Davis.
“The actors have nothing but their voice portrayal of the characters to convey to the audience the pace, emotion and progression of the story line,” says Marsters in an email to the Tribune. “It’s a challenge to the actors, because they have to be able to ‘voice act’ (well) enough to get the ... audience to visualize what they are reading.”
Actors Jeff Davey (Capra), Cheryl Sharr (Lucille Capra), Dan Meiller (Harry Cohn and other characters), Vicky Werba (Bette Davis and Mama Capra), Judi Peters (Barbara Stanwyck and Claudette Colbert) and Don Crosby (Bob Riskin and other characters) will present the show.
Capra, the son of a fruit picker, grew up to make 1930s and ’40s Hollywood classics like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “It Happened One Night” and “Arsenic and Old Lace.” He won three Academy Awards for best director and was the first director to sweep the Oscars in 1934 when “It Happened One Night” won best picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay.
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