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Christmas classic: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ comes to MLHS stage

by Rebecca Pettingill
Staff Writer | December 1, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Moses Lake High School (MLHS) Drama will perform “It’s a Wonderful Life” for four days starting Friday.

Two of the main characters in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey and his wife Mary, are played by Ian Wiseman and Zoe Sterner. Both are seniors who were a part of drama every year since they got to high school.

“I’d probably say the amount of work that goes into it,” Wiseman said of productions. “The amount of hours that have actually gone into it is insane.”

He spoke of not just the actors, but those behind the scenes who help with the set, costumes and much more. An exciting detail to this play is it features a real Ford Model T car on stage for certain scenes.

The play features a cast of 28 MLHS students, more than director Sharon Winningham said she expected to turn out.

Winningham said the show faced numerous challenges to bring it to fruition. Normally, from start to finish, the play is produced in eight weeks, but she extended it an extra four weeks.

This is Winningham’s second year directing at MLHS and she said COVID-19 was the biggest hurdle and why she extended the time to produce the show. The pandemic and restrictions resulted in lower turnouts, more requirements around masks, vaccinations or testing, consent forms and possible quarantining.

“Ultimately, I’m able to come here and work with these kids and they’re enthusiastic, and they believe in what we’re doing and that makes it all worth it,” Winningham said.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” tells the story of George Bailey, who dreams of leaving his small town and traveling the world as an engineer, but always puts his plans on hold to help someone in need. It all comes to a head when money goes missing from the Bailey family business and George prepares to take his own life, thinking those around him would be better off without him. An angel reviews George’s life, stops him from suicide and shows him what would have been had he never been born. The emotional ending cemented the film version as a Christmas classic.

Playscripts.com describes the play by Doug Rand: “It’s not only a joyful Christmas tale – it’s the gorgeous love story of George and Mary Bailey, a vivid portrait of the Greatest Generation, a descent into the darkest hour of a man trapped by circumstance and a powerful meditation on what makes a meaningful life.”

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Dec. 10 and 11, as well as 2 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 11. The entry cost is $10 for evenings and $9 for matinees. Pictures with Santa will be sold during the Saturday matinees, as well as ornaments and charcuterie boards featuring a quote from the show. The money earned goes toward the MLHS spring musical and an upcoming trip.

Emily Duvall, assistant director, warned the play touches on depression and suicide, meaning it may not be suitable for everyone.

Rebecca Pettingill can be reached via email at rpettingill@columbiabasinherald.com.

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Rebecca Pettingill/Columbia Basin Herald

George Bailey, played by MLHS senior Ian Wiseman, and his wife Mary, played by senior Zoe Sterner, are seen in a flashback in the play “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

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Rebecca Pettingill/Columbia Basin Herald

From left to right, Evan Alredge, Ryan Hone, seated, and Beck Ashton appear in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

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