American Blues Theater’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ will move you

It’s a fact: “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a story which moves men incredibly deeply, occasionally bringing them to tears in highly public places. Men don’t care about this, because they’re caught up in a tale that gets them right in the gut, in the heart and in the tear ducts. What’s more accessible than the struggle of your affable Everyman, working like a dog to make ends meet, giving the shirt off your back to your closest pal and–occasionally–desperately wondering what it all means?

If you go

Runs through Dec. 27

Greenhouse Theater Center

2257 N. Lincoln Ave


Another fact: This story hits women the exact same way.

A third fact: American Blues Theater’s production is the best “It’s a Wonderful Life” you’ll ever see.

Set as a live Chicago radio broadcast in the 1940s, the show is an immersive Christmas card of an experience, from the opening commercial jingles (for local businesses!) to the post-show cookies and milk in the lobby. The cast, which includes six dynamic actors (James Joseph, Zach Kenney, Camille Robinson, John Mohrlein, Amanda Tanguay and Jarrod Zimmerman) playing multiple stylized roles, also features Shawn Goudie’s pitch perfect Foley effects and Michael Mahler’s terrific musical direction, bandleader-style.

And even though this heartwarming stroll through Bedford Falls is an absolutely perfect date night event, it’ll also keep your older kids enthralled for the full 90 minutes. (In addition to trivia prizes, kids can receive special keepsakes from Santa Claus himself at the matinee performance on Dec. 20.)

Now in its 14th year, “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago” is an absolute treasure; I wasn’t the only one who thought so, either. As the lights came back up the night we saw the show, audience members took their time getting to their feet, blinking back tears and nodding to each other in camaraderie of the beautiful theater we just experienced.

Because in Chicago–just as in Bedford Falls–it’s good to have an understanding community around you. (Especially when you’re crying manly tears.)

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