“It’s a Wonderful Life,” a Wonderful Celebration at Theatre Palisades

The cast of “It’s a Wonderful Life” prior to taking the stage.

We now can enjoy two annual Christmas celebrations in Pacific Palisades. One, the revived Ho!Ho!Ho! in Temescal Canyon, provides a warm community event. This year, family and children gathered with Santa at Simon Meadow on a Saturday.

The second event is an eight-year tradition that has easily become a favorite with adults. Last Wednesday night, the Theatre Palisades Actors’ Troupe (TPAT) presented a live radio play celebrating the holiday season. The actors and Foley crew, dressed in costume, recreated a 1946 radio show broadcast of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The free performance at the Pierson Playhouse started in the lobby with mulled wine and Christmas cookies before the performance.

Then it was into the theater and a “Wonderful” night that included two skilled Foley artists, Maria O’Connor and Martha Hunter, who provided all of the radio “sound effects.” The cast of 12 actors, directed by Sherman Wayne, were equally talented.

The 1946 Christmas movie was produced by Frank Capra, based on a short story, “The Greatest Gift,” by Phillip Van Doren Stern, that examines the life of George Bailey.

This man (played in the movie by Jimmy Stewart) has given up a life of dreams to help others, and finally in desperation on Christmas Eve, considers suicide because he feels he’s been a failure.

His guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, travels to earth to show George all the lives he’s touched and how different the community of Bedford Falls would have been if he had never been born.

Initially, the movie performed poorly at the box office, but it was recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made. Filmmaker Capra said it was his personal favorite and he screened it for his family every Christmas season.

After Wednesday’s performance, Mrs. Santa Claus and her chief elf, Skyla Burmeister, gave away two gift certificates from Luxe Coffee, a gift certificate from Gelson’s supermarket, two sets of tickets to upcoming Theatre Palisades shows and a Bob’s Burger Swag basket donated by Bento Box Productions.




Martha Hunter shared her mulled wine recipe with Circling the News and we’re sharing it with readers:

Two bottles of Merlot.

One cup of Brandy

One cup of Apple Cider

One cup of Honey, Cinnamon sticks, Star anise, Cloves stuck in quartered orange.

The easiest way to heat it is in a crock pot/slow cooker but you can also use the stove. Heat on low until it gets hot (about an hour). Stir occasionally. When ready to serve, remove/strain all spices and oranges. Serves about twelve.

Optional: serve with an orange twist and cinnamon stick.

There are many, many variations. One recipe uses maple syrup instead of honey. Some people leave out the apple cider. Do not leave the spices in too long or the wine can turn a bit bitter.

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