It's A Wonderful Life

Book and Lyrics by Keith Ferguson


Based on the beloved 1946 film, this musical faithfully follows George Bailey’s life from his childhood dreams to his midlife disappointments and beyond, as we all take a journey to discover whether his life has mattered at all. Cinematically scored and theatrically staged, this adaptation breathes musical life into a familiar story, while retaining the warmth, humor, and pathos of the original. A new holiday classic for devotees and newcomers alike.

- From the Broadway Licensing Global show page

Event Information

  • December 1-2, 6-8 @ 7:00pm
    December 2, 9 @ 1:00pm
     Caine Lyric Theatre
    Approx. Run Time: Act 1 – 90 minutes, Act 2 – 58 minutes, 1 – 15-minute intermission.

Director’s Note

Welcome to It’s a Wonderful Life! Frank Capra’s classic film of the same name has become a holiday staple for many American families. But if you have somehow missed the movie never fear, you will feel perfectly at home in Bedford Falls.

So why do a live-theatrical-musical version of this famous film, and why now? I’ve been musing on these questions for the past several months while working on this production, and the answer I’ve come to is…because we need it. At one time or another we have all known fear, financial hardship; faced the loss of a job, a dream, a loved one.

We are all living through a time of uncertainty when the ties that bind us together seem to be fracturing. We need community to remind us that even if we are experiencing the isolation of despair, we are not alone. We need the stories of people like us, and not like us, to build compassion and empathy. We need music to open our hearts, elevate our mood, and lower our blood pressure. We need to sit next to each other in the same room, breath the same air, laugh and cry together and know that we belong to one another.

Live theatre provides an opportunity for communal meaning-making. Live music soothes our soul, inspires our courage, and gives us beauty. The story of George Bailey reminds us of the power of a simple act of kindness. These gifts are not pretentious. They are essential. They are fundamental.

I am so grateful to be part of this company of theatre artists. Whether through crafting a performance, shaping space, exploring light and shadow, or designing the garments and objects that are the outward expression of the inner landscape, their work will engage your imagination and connect you to our shared humanity.

Enjoy the show!

Dramaturgy Note

The Spirit of Adaptation

It’s no secret that It’s a Wonderful Life – The Musical is a stage adaptation of the popular holiday movie of the same name (minus “The Musical”). This is, of course, not to be confused with the two-act play from 1993, or the radio play from 1997, or the other radio play from 2005, or yet another radio play from 2006. It’s also possible to mistake our production for the 1986 musical A Wonderful Life written by Joe Raposo and Fiddler on the Roof lyricist Sheldon Harnick. To have so many scripts begs the question: what about this story inspires so many artists to revisit it again and again? One answer stems from the history of It’s A Wonderful Life—and how the film itself isn’t anywhere close to “original”, either.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, published in December of 1843, is a popular Victorian tale that follows stingy business owner Ebenezer Scrooge one fateful Christmas Eve as he faces ghosts from his own Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Although the protagonist of Dickens’ classic seems to share more in common with Mr. Potter than George Bailey, the two stories share a similar message: our lives and choices have a profound impact on those around us, even if we don’t realize it. This theme would be central to a booklet written a decade later, and the inspiration for It’s a Wonderful Life.

“The Greatest Gift,” written in 1943 by Philip Van Doren Stern, centers on a man named George Pratt, who stands on a bridge on Christmas Eve and considers ending his life. A strange man appears and grants him his wish to never be born. George goes back into town and finds that none of his loved ones recognize him. When he returns to the strange man, he explains that George has already been the greatest gift of all: life.

Although it wasn’t massively popular at publication, RKO Pictures bought the rights to The Greatest Gift in April 1944, with the plan of casting Cary Grant as the story’s leading man. Many playwrights tried their hand at the script adaptation, including Dalton Trumbo and Clifford Odets. Early in the process, news of the project was brought to the attention of director Frank Capra. Using some scenes from Odets’ script, Capra brought on writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, Michael Wilson, and Dorothy Parker for rewrites, a process many firsthand describe as arduous.

Capra hired James Stewart, an actor he’d previously collaborated with on You Can’t Take It with You (1938) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), as the leading man, George Bailey. It was Stewart’s first role after the war. Many prominent actresses, including Jean Arthur and Ginger Rogers, were considered for George’s wife, Mary, but the role ultimately went to Donna Reed. The set used for the film covered four acres and had real dogs, cats, and pigeons freely roaming to give it a “lived-in” feel. Filming began April 15, 1946 and wrapped on July 27, 1946.

It’s a Wonderful Life wasn’t a block buster upon its release. It made $3.3 million at the box office, but it was also a reported loss of over $500,000 for RKO. Reviews for the film were mixed, something that Frank Capra would begrudge for years to come. However, due to a clerical error, the copyright for the film lapsed, causing several local TV stations to air the film during the holiday season in the 1970s and ‘80s and leading to its current reputation as a Christmas classic.

Keith Ferguson and Bruce Greer’s musical adaptation—or the show you’re seeing today—first premiered at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas, Texas on December 18th, 1998, and embeds new tunes to a familiar story. Utah State University Theatre’s production aims to remind viewers of a holiday classic, with subtle changes suited for the stage that work to serve this timeless story and the message found within its title: It’s a Wonderful Life

Special Thanks

Michelle Bradford, Jana Hill, vintage hair styling consultant and yarn wrangler, Hometown Values Magazine

Role First Name Last Name Position
Joseph/ Mr. Gower Ben Quiroz Actor
Franklin/ Charlie/ Featured Dancer Ethan Shaw Actor
Clarence Patrick Williams Actor
Bedford Falls Girl, U/S Janie Aria LaMalfa Actor
Bedford Falls Girl, U/S Pete/ Tommy Aline Laranja Actor
Bert/ Tollhouse Keeper, U/S George Bailey Jonah Newton Actor
Ernie, U/S Sam/ Ensemble Robert Mac Minshew Actor
George Bailey Andrew Hansen Actor
Joe/ Mr. Reineman, U/S Mr. Martini, Ed/ Ensemble Niko Barlow Actor
Mr. Martini/ Marty Hatch/ Featured Dancer, U/S Clarence Levi Hopkins Actor
Mrs. Martini/ Mrs. Thompson Ollie Chieppa Actor
Harry Bailey/ Ensemble, U/S Mr. Potter Harmon Jackson Actor
Violet Bick, U/S Mary Hatch Ariana Whatcott Actor
Mother Bailey Maribeth Evensen-Hengge Actor
Pop Bailey Cary Youmans Actor
Uncle Billy Kaito Davis Actor
Cousin Tilly/ Ensemble Marin Robison Actor
Mr. Potter Micah Coombs Actor
Potter’s Associate/ Albert, U/S Marty/ Ensemble/ Featured Dancer McKade Biggs Actor
Sam Wainwright Ryan Adams Actor
Mary Hatch Mia Gatherum Actor
Mayor/ Randall/ Intimacy Captain, U/S Uncle Billy/ Ensemble Sumner Jones Shoell Actor
Tom/ Mr. Carter/ Fight Captain, U/S Mr. Gower/ Mayor/ Randall Timo Rasmussen Actor
Ruth/ Ensemble Es Barnes Actor
Mrs. Hatch/ Featured Soloist Megan Bedell Actor
Ed/ Ensemble, U/S Bert/ Ernie/ Harry/ Ensemble Dakota Sanches Actor
Mrs. Davis/ Featured Soloist Samantha Capener Actor
Alice/ Featured Dancer Megan Christiansen Actor
Alice/ Featured Daner Alia Leonard Actor
Salvation Army Man/ Ensemble Mason Garcia Actor
Pete Milo Biggs Actor
Janie, U/S Zuzu Grace Farr Actor
Tommy Leo Glass Actor
Zuzu Genevieve Hill Actor
Shirley/ Ensemble/ Featured Dancer Brynn Francis Actor
Sheriff/ Ensemble Juan Mendez Actor
U/S Charlie/ Featured Dancer/ Joe/ Mr. Reineman/ Tom/ Mr. Carter/ Ensemble Drake Murdock Actor
U/S Mrs. Martini/ Mrs. Thompson/ Tilly/ Ensemble Dylan Seeley Actor
U/S Violet Bick/ Ensemble Alia Leonary Actor
U/S Mother Bailey/ Mrs. Hatch/ Ensemble Saffron Canfield Actor
U/S Ruth/ Mrs. Davis/ Ensemble Tori Ludlow Actor
Director Tarah  Flanagan Production Staff
Choreographer/ Intimacy Director Stephanie  White Production Staff
Stage Manager Sarah  Polizzotto Production Staff
Asst. Stage Manager Rachel  Tillotson Production Staff
Asst. Stage Manager Brooklyn  Bullard Production Staff
Fight Director Jason  Spelbring Production Staff
Dialect Coach Michael  Shipley Production Staff
Dramaturg Mary  Newton Production Staff
Costume Designer, Costume Shop Manager Lydia  Semler Designer
Asst. Costume Designer Emma  Lovan Designer
Asst. Costume Shop Manager Maren  Lyman Production Staff
Lighting Designer, Master Electrician Joshua  Legate Designer
Sound Designer, A1 Carter  Lee Designer
Props Master Melanie Valera  Garcia Designer
Scenic Designer Michael  Francis Designer
Scenic Charge Arden  Fayard Production Staff
Scenic Charge J. S.  Peterson Production Staff
Asst. Scenic Charge Lennon  VanAusdel Production Staff
Marketing Jason  Spelbring Marketing
Social Media Manager Emily  Heap Marketing
Social Media Fellow Emma  Lovan Marketing
Graphic Design Brynne  McMurray Marketing
Photographer Lucas  Bybee Marketing
Light Board Op Samantha  Clinger Run Crew
Spot Op Emily  Nuttall Run Crew
Spot Op Timothy  Hult Run Crew
Sound Board Op Ian  Buchanan Run Crew
A2 Jose  Huerta-Borjas Run Crew
Deck Carter  Hulet Run Crew
Deck Alexis  Mignano Run Crew
Wardrobe Head Jocelyn  Flammer Run Crew
Wardrobe Crew Leah  Brown Run Crew
Wardrobe Crew McKinley  Brooks Run Crew
Interim Department Head Richie  Call Faculty/ Staff
Associate Dean, Head of Acting Leslie  Brott Faculty/ Staff
Technical Director/ Production Manager Amy  Critchfield Faculty/ Staff
Dramaturgy Advisor Amanda  Dawson Faculty/ Staff
Graduate Advisor, Head of Scenic Design Dennis  Hassan Faculty/ Staff
Production Stage Manager Kelsey  Koga Faculty/ Staff
Interim Head of Tech and Design Joshua  Legate Faculty/ Staff


Land Acknowledgement

As a land-grant institution, Utah State University campuses and centers reside and operate on the territories of the eight tribes of Utah, who have been living, working, and residing on this land from time immemorial. These tribes are the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Indians, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, Northwestern Band of Shoshone, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, San Juan Southern Paiute, Skull Valley Band of Goshute, and White Mesa Band of the Ute Mountain Ute. We acknowledge these lands carry the stories of these Nations and their struggles for survival and identity. We recognize Elders past and present as peoples who have cared for, and continue to care for, the land. In offering this land acknowledgment, we affirm Indigenous self-governance history, experiences, and resiliency of the Native people who are still here today.