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Desert Star's 'Wonderful Life' is fun holiday show for all ages

By Landon Walters

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Nov. 28 2011 3:49 p.m. MST

Richy Steadman, Jeff Jensen, Corinne Adair, Kerstin Davis, Spencer Ashby and Mary Parker Williams in "It's A Wonderful Life: Winging in the Holidays," Desert Star Playhouse through Dec. 31.

Chad Whitlock for Desert Star

MURRAY — The cast of Desert Star Playhouse's "It’s a Wonderful Life: Winging in the Holidays" shines in its parody of the classic Christmas movie. Now set in 2011, with flashbacks to the “bygone eras” of the 1980s and 1990s, the show is easy to understand and enjoy for audience members of all ages.

While some may think there is no need to update such a classic, it may be surprising to see how seamlessly the cast does so without changing the overall meaning of the story or tarnishing the reputation of the original.

Johnny Angel, who happens to resemble the Fonz from "Happy Days," complete with leather jacket and pompadour haircut, takes the place of Clarence, helping George Bailey with his struggles and earning his wings in the process.

While the plot of "Winging in the Holidays" closely follows that of the film, the audience will enjoy some unexpected twists and turns as George tries to solve the problem of the missing $50,000 from the family business. The flashback scenes are some of the most entertaining, partially because of the music and fashions of the '80s, but mostly because of the actors’ comedic timing and the updated script.

As the show closes, the plot takes one final unexpected twist that ties the story together nicely and gives the audience a whole new ending.

As usual, Desert Star is very audience inclusive, pointing out (or embarrassing, in some cases) individuals with a birthday or anniversary. Following this interaction, the audience is treated to the "Christmas at Our House Olio." This portion lets cast members display their individual talents through music and comedy. It's a nice way to end the show with more holiday music.

Audiences find themselves tapping their feet and wanting to sing along throughout both the main show and the olio, and the cast doesn’t seem to mind when it happens. Some audience members enjoyed the show more exuberantly than others, but the entire crowd left pleased.

"It’s a Wonderful Life: Winging in the Holidays" absolutely lives up to the theater's motto that “It’s always fun at Desert Star.”

Landon Walters is a history and political science major currently studying at Salt Lake Community College. He is an avid sports fan and loves writing. He can be reached at mavericksoccer_22@hotmail.com.

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