Guests from High River take in holiday classic

GeorgeMarieTHUMBOn Nov. 8, Rosebud Theatre, located in the hamlet of Rosebud, Alta., set aside 200 complimentary tickets for the matinee and evening shows of It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play for residents of High River.

Adapted from Frank Capra's film, It's a Wonderful Life, this heartwarming holiday classic unfolds as an on-stage live radio broadcast.

In a press release, Rosebud Theatre said they wanted to find a way to help those who were affected by the floods that hit southern Alberta earlier this year.

 By opening up an environment of hospitality and entertainment, the theatre said they hope to help residents who are still under stress of rebuilding their homes and dealing with the traumatic aftermath of the floods by treating them to a night out.

Roy Simpson, a guest who travelled from High River to Rosebud, said he was impressed by the meal served prior to the show and was pleased with the level of performance throughout the production.

"The sound effects were tremendous," Simpson said.. "So subtle yet so impactful."

Simpson said this was his first visit to the Rosebud Theatre and that he felt it was a nice thing the theatre had done by inviting flood victims from High River to take in the show free of charge.

Because the production was presented in a live radio broadcast format, sound played a critical role throughout the play. The emphasis on the auditory allowed the audience to appreciate the humorous moments and subtle jokes that may otherwise be missed in the film, which was apparent when the theatre erupted with laughter throughout the show.

To get into the spirit of the holidays, here are some other productions taking place in Calgary and area:

• Alberta Ballet's The Nutcracker
• Aspen Crossing's Christmas At the Lucky Caboose
• Morpheus Theatre's It's a Wonderful Life
• Theatre Calgary's A Christmas Carol

"It was very, very good," Mona Oakley, who also travelled from High River to enjoy the show, said.

For such a small community it's great they're able to do a production like this, I would definitely come back to another production."

Complete with life-like sound effects and a live band, Rosebud Theatre transported guests back in time to Bedford Falls in the 1940s, the hometown of George Bailey, played by Nathan Schmidt. Guests watch and listen as a good-hearted, frustrated businessman is pushed to his breaking point only to rediscover the value of his own life — with the help of his endearing guardian angel, Clarence — and just how much George has positively impacted those around him.

A standing ovation at the end of the show punctuated the performance. Applause filled the room, perhaps as much gratitude as elation from the audience.

Capturing the spirit of the season, guests were left with the classic message from It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play that "every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings."

Rosebud Theatre is located an hour and 20 minutes east of Calgary in the hamlet of Rosebud, Alta. Adult admission costs between $59 and $71 and includes a lunch or dinner prior to the matinee and evening shows of It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play.

The production is running until Dec. 22. For more information on show times and ticket prices, visit Rosebud Theatre's website.

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