"What a heartwarming joy to discover this gem of a musical! Mark Cabaniss & Lowell Alexander have taken a story as American as apple pie, and given it a toe-tapping new lease on life as a work for the stage. They have lifted the tale of George Bailey and the folks around him in Bedford Falls into our contemporary psyches, while entertaining us every step of the way. Alexander’s songs overflow with infectious melody, and Cabaniss’ adaptation is faithful, charming, & funny. Theater groups around the country would do well to add this new show to their holiday fare — it couldn’t be more timeless a tale. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll smile at least a hundred times, and you’ll ultimately leave the theatre whistling It’s a Wonderful Life!"
"A great musical can make life wonderful ... and It's a Wonderful Life has been made into a truly wonderful musical with Miracle In Bedford Falls. The creative team, with joyful reverence for their source, has taken one of America's most beloved stories to a higher level. If it's true that every time a bell rings, an angel has won its wings, then this winning and heavenly musical rings its own bells and flies high above the crowd. Attaboy, Clarence! George Bailey lives."
Tony Award-Winning Composer/Playwright/Arranger
“This show is some kind of wonderful!”
-Bold Life Magazine
“Miracle in Bedford Falls was a hit for our theatre! We plan to make it an annual holiday tradition.”
Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre
“Miracle in Bedford Falls” is a Heartwarming Musical Holiday Treat
The Asheville Citizen-Times • Published December 5, 2008
By Tony Kiss
MARS HILL – For a movie that is 62 years old, the holiday classic “It's a Wonderful Life” continues to pack a powerful message of hope and friendship, and find new life on stage.
A number of theatrical productions have been inspired by the Frank Capra film, the latest being the musical “Miracle in Bedford Falls,” a world premiere production of Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre.
It's risky business taking such a beloved film and bringing it to life, but this show pulls it off with heartwarming success, adding effective original songs and dance along the way. It's like an old-fashioned holiday greeting card come to life.
Director Bill Gregg has assembled a sharp cast and, working from an adaptation by Mark Cabaniss and Lowell Alexander, touches on all the right emotional notes. Wisely, this is not a copy of the Jimmy Stewart-Donna Reed movie. Some of the movie's scenes have become narration, to make room for the singing and dancing sequences. Nor does the cast attempt to duplicate the stellar screen performances by Stewart, Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell and Henry Travers.
But the basic story remains the same. Good guy George Bailey dreams of traveling the world but instead stays home in Bedford Falls to run his family's small-time Building and Loan. With support from his loving wife, Mary, George carries on, until none-too-bright Uncle Billy misplaces a pile of cash, and the bank's nasty competitor Henry Potter swoops in to bring George down.
With help of a wannabe angel Clarence, George is shown how many lives he's touched and how fortunate he really is. The story seems very timely, especially with the theme of bank closings and heartless greed.
Because the show (and the songs) are new, you won't know any of the music, but the best numbers include “On My Shoulders,” “Those Moments” and “I Am Home.”
And like the film, “Miracle in Bedford Falls” includes one of the best lines ever uttered in a show: “No man is a failure who has friends.”
© Copyright 2008 by the Asheville Citizen-Times. All rights reserved. Used by permission.