Atlanta playwright Steve Murray takes a holiday from his signature witty, sexy shows such as Manna and Rescue and Recovery to adapt America's favorite Christmas film -- It's a Wonderful Life -- as a one-man show for Portland Center Stage, where former Actor's Express founder and artistic director Chris Coleman now works. The sometime film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution talks about adjusting to the pace of Bedford Falls for the world premiere of This Wonderful Life.
As a film critic, do you find it strange to be tampering with a classic film?
Not really. It's a Wonderful Life is more than a classic film now. It's become the States' Christmas Carol. It has a mythic resonance -- and at the same time, it's so ingrained in our culture, it's easy to tweak and make fun of. Nothing I do in the script -- like throw in wisecracks about some of the sillier elements of the movie -- can ever harm Life's place in people's hearts.
Is doing an uplifting holiday story a change of page for you?
Actually, you may have forgotten how dark a movie Life can be. It's got alcoholism, child abuse, attempted suicide -- and a spectacularly intense performance by Jimmy Stewart. The movie is uplifting, sure, but it earns it the hard way.
How do you compress It's a Wonderful Life into a one-man show?
You kill things you love. We're turning a 130-minute movie into a 75-minute play. Some elements just have to go, even favorite moments, like George Bailey wrecking his car. Honestly, I wish I could see [actor] Mark Setlock's 130-minute version of the whole thing. He's got Jimmy Stewart and Lionel Barrymore down pat, and sometimes it's a shock when he just talks as, you know, himself.Curt Holman
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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