A wonderful Christmas story is coming to East Riding Theatre

Published: Wednesday 13th December 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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1940s America comes to East Riding Theatre this festive season in an exciting adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life.

One of the most-loved Christmas films, the Frank Capra classic is brought to life in this heartwarming stage production.

We spoke with Ellie Claughton, producer of the show, to find out a little more about this delightful performance.

“Audiences should expect to be transported to the world of Bedford Falls from the minute they enter the auditorium. However, they shouldn’t anticipate a carbon copy of the film,” Ellie tells us. “Mary Elliot Nelson’s version is really charming and provides a brilliant framework for our toy town set design and Jake Smith’s direction.”

The play narrates the story of George Bailey, a small-town clerk facing financial ruin. He wonders if his town would be better off if he just disappeared. As if by magic, an apprentice angel emerges that needs to save a soul to win her wings.

“I think George’s story is one that the majority of us can relate to,” Ellie continues. “We are going through some tricky times in 2017, and can often feel our dreams being taken over by the humdrum of everyday life. But once we step back and take a look at what we have, we realise that it’s the people we care about and the community that we have built together that makes our lives really special.”

Breathing life into this wonderful play is a 12-strong cast of East Riding Theatre favourites. George is portrayed by James Stewart, whilst Clive Kneller and Richard Avery also return to the Beverley stage. Harriet Benson makes her debut at the theatre in a beautiful performance as the angel.

“Producing the show has been really great. The theatre encompasses the community spirit of Christmas. The venue has been filled with volunteers putting up homemade decorations in the cafe bar,” Ellie enthuses. “Jake and I have never worked together before but it’s been brilliant to collaborate with someone who is on your wavelength and understands the workings of the venue.”

Jake is making his East Riding Theatre directorial debut too. After working at The National Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre, as well as being Resident Director at the Almeida, he is extremely excited to be working on It’s a Wonderful Life:

“The spirit of ERT is one of community, so what better production to present this Christmas than a story about the importance of community, the value of humanity and the true meaning of Christmas,” he buzzes. “The play features dance, originally composed music, magic and sparkle and some surprises!”

Ellie, who was born in Beverley, is also glad to be back in her hometown: “My parents are still based here, so it’s lovely to come home for Christmas,” she says.

“It’s a wonderful Christmas story, but it is also just a really good play. The show runs until 6th January, so it can be enjoyed by audiences outside the festive period as a charismatic story of community, love and life.”

It’s a Wonderful Life runs from Thursday 14 December until Saturday 6 January 2018. More information and tickets can be found on the East Riding Theatre website. 

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Published: Wednesday 13th December 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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