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Penn-Trafford stages 'It's a Wonderful Life'

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Penn-Trafford Star Matt Fawcett, front left as Mr. Potter, and Dan Fitzgerald, back left as Clarence, rehearse a scene in the Penn-Trafford Drama Guild's 'It's a Wonderful Life' with Amber Shojaie, Zach Freilino, Patrick Harris and Jessica Kotik. Shows will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday in the high school auditorium. The Penn Trafford Drama Guild presents 'It's A Wonderful Life' this weekend November 22-24. Rehearsing a scene are Matt Fawcett (Henry Potter), Amber Shojaie (Aunt Tilly), Zach Freilino ((Uncle Billy), Patrick HArris (Harry Bailey) and Jessica Kotik (Mother Bailey). Dan Fitzgerald (Clarence Odbody) observes from above.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Penn-Trafford Star The Penn Trafford Drama The Bailey children are played by Kristopher Sekera (Pete), Raegan Hochman (Zuzu), Morgan Bruni (Janie) and Max Haberberger (Tommy). Taylor Powell plays Mary and Michael Zula is George.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Penn-Trafford Star Michael Zula as Geroge Bailey and Taylor Powell as Mary Hatch rehearse the famous phone scene.

You'll hear a bell ring in the Penn-Trafford High School auditorium this weekend.

For the next three days, Bedford Falls and its best-known residents — George Bailey; his wife, Mary; and crotchety businessman Mr. Potter — will take center stage.

The Penn-Trafford Drama Guild will present “It's a Wonderful Life” on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon.

The production, based on the 1946 movie starring Jimmy Stewart, follows a suicidal Bailey, as a guardian angel named Clarence shows him what his town would be like if Bailey had never been born.

The film, which started growing in popularity during the 1970s, now is a staple of the NBC holiday schedule, and airs during prime-time hours every year.

Despite the frequent showings on TV, junior Michael Zula said it wasn't until he began rehearsing this fall to play George that his appreciation for the story blossomed.

“To me, now, it's just so much more significant, especially because it's so emotional,” he said.

Meanwhile, his on-stage wife, junior Taylor Powell, said she was honored to be chosen to play Mary. Taylor said she has watched the movie several times since she was a little girl.

“I think that Donna Reed, as an actress (who played Mary), is so inspiring,” she said.

Stewart's fans credit the film for helping to draw a new generation of people to the Indiana County native's career.

The Bailey character has become so connected with Stewart that the Jimmy Stewart Museum in downtown Indiana has an annual George Bailey Awards banquet.

“Certainly, we take the fictional character George Bailey and run with it,” said Tim Harley, the museum's executive director for nine years. “He is kind of that everyman. You see him going through personal and professional dilemmas that everyone goes through.

“That it's become a classic at Christmastime, I think, is really wonderful. That that is the type of film that still has meaning in contemporary culture is encouraging.”

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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