Of all the classic Christmas stories, Frank Capra’s A Wonderful Life is the holiday touchstone that best conflates holiday nostalgia with authentic real life situations. The Nutcracker is a bit too sugary, A Christmas Carol typically Victorian, Santaland Diaries is somewhat world weary and sarcastic, but A Wonderful Life hits the Christmas sweet spot perfectly. It has good guys and bad guys, suspense and a happy ending.
Playing at the Cohoes, (NY) Music Hall through December 18, it is the must-see musical of the Christmas season, perfect for families who like celebrating the holiday together. It may deal with grownup themes, but the younger children in the audience were mesmerized by the rapidly changing scenes which were almost cinematic, and the recognizable characters and lively music. For some of the youngsters, it was the first time they saw the Charleston performed live on stage, what fun!
But let’s back up for a moment, for this is a musical with an interesting history.