Richmond phenom Scott Wichman brings his signature impeccable comedic timing and more than a dash of tenderness to Virginia Rep’s This Wonderful Life, Steve Murray’s adaptation of the screenplay for the beloved holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life.
Director John Moon and Wichman first worked together on this project seven years ago. I overheard several audience members fondly recall the duo’s inaugural collaboration on Murray’s vision. Newcomers to the production were equally enthralled.
This Wonderful Life is an example of “less is more” and “keep it simple.” The understated and versatile set is used to perfection by Wichman who commands every corner of the stage and every prop at his disposal.
The show’s venue – the historic Hanover Tavern – is just right.
From soliciting raucous laughter to nostalgic tears, Wichman has the audience in the palm of his hands as he narrates and portrays all the residents of the fictional Bedford Falls as we relive the heart-tugging story of George Bailey – the quintessential good guy – who dreams of traveling the world but ends up stuck in his hometown. Who has it all then loses even more. Who ends up on a bridge on Christmas Eve only to rescue Clarence, an angel-disguised-as-a-man who plunges into the titular falls.
But we know who really saves whom.
Wichman’s facial expressions alone are a joy to watch. Coupled with the myriad of emotions he is able to call up at will, his performance in This Wonderful Life is a master class in character acting.
Wichman earned a well-deserved, enthusiastic standing ovation.
Julie Harthill Clayton is an out and proud bisexual with a passion for reading, writing . . . and NOT arithmetic. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary and more. She is working on her first novel - Two Tickets to Freedom - a semi-autobiographical queer coming-of-age tale.
A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.