Stories & Cast Interviews
Ring In The New....Wonderfully!
A Gala celebration is in store for revelers here at WBT on the Eve of the New Year! A Sumptuous feast, The wonderfully uplifting musical, A Wonderful Life, and then dancing into the night with the Tuxedo Parc Orchestra! At the stroke of midnight, raise a glass of bubbly to the new year, full of new dreams and unexplored possibilities!
In the past 100 years, the "ball dropping" on top of One Times Square in New York City, broadcast to all of America (and rebroadcast in many other countries), is a major component of the New Year celebration. The 1,070-pound, 6-foot-diameter Waterford crystal ball located high above Times Square is lowered, starting at 11:59:00pm and reaching the bottom of its tower 60 seconds later, at the stroke of midnight. This is repeated for all four time zones in the continental US. It is sometimes referred to as "the big apple" like the city itself; the custom derives from the time signal that used to be given at noon in harbors. From 1981 to 1988, New York City dropped an enlarged apple in recognition of its nickname.. The song Auld Lang Syne has become a popular song to sing at midnight on New Year's Eve.
If your head really hurts on New Year's Day, you could point your finger at the Babylonians who started this new year revelry nonsense. Though the ancient Romans added the idea of alcoholic excess, or at least perfected it. Julius Caesar fixed the start of the year on Jan. 1 by letting the previous year run to 445 days rather than the traditional 365.
New Year's is among the very oldest and most persistent of human celebrations.
The western world celebrates the new year on Jan. 1. For some thousands of years before the Romans, the new year was celebrated with the first edible crops of the season or the first new moon. The new year celebration is an observance of the earth's ability to renew itself and sustain us for another year. In agrarian societies— foods were the most potent of all new year's symbols.
Ancient Egyptian and Greek societies paraded a baby around to symbolize the new year, at the end of winter when the crops sprouted, not the beginning when we do it. Baby New remains a popular symbol and turns up at celebrations even today. Father Time, who symbolizes the passage of time and the death of the old year, is a kindly looking old fellow, sometimes depicted holding Baby New Year.
At the stroke of , as the old year passes into the new, only one tradition is left: the kiss. The Romans loved kissing and incorporated it into their Solstice and Saturnalia celebrations. Thus kissing as a New Year's Eve tradition persists today throughout the new world. The kiss is meant to set the tone for the new year, so be careful who you are standing near when the clock strikes 12. Pick a loved one. Awkward is not the tone you want to set for a whole year.
(excerpts from an article by
Enjoy these little known facts about …It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Lionel Barrymore convinced James Stewart to take the role of George, despite his feeling that he was not up to it so soon after World War II. James Stewart cited George Bailey as being his favorite character. The part was originally developed at another studio with Cary Grant earmarked for the role. When Frank Capra inherited the project, he rewrote it to suit Stewart. James Stewart and Donna Reed reprised their roles in 1947 on radio, first on “The Lux Radio Theatre” and then on “Camel Screen Guild Theatre.” In the Lux version, instead of putting Zuzu’s petals in his pocket, George has a bell that Zuzu likes to play with. The “Lux” version aired in March; the “Screen Guild” version aired December 29th.
Films made prior to this one used cornflakes painted white for the falling snow effect. Because the cornflakes were so loud, dialogue had to be dubbed in later. Frank Capra wanted to record the sound live, so a new snow effect was developed using foamite (a fire-fighting chemical) and soap and water. This mixture was then pumped at high pressure through a wind machine to create the silent, falling snow. 6000 gallons of the new snow were used in the film. The RKO Effects Department received a special award from the Motion Picture Academy for the development of the new film snow.
The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) is showing at the movie house as George runs down the street in
For the scene that required Donna Reed to throw a rock into the window of the Granville House, Frank Capra hired a marksman to shoot it out for her on cue. To everyone’s amazement, Donna Reed broke the window with true aim and heft without the assistance of the hired marksman!
James Stewart was nervous about the phone scene kiss because it was his first screen kiss since his return to
Jean Arthur was Frank Capra’s first choice for the part of Mary. However, she declined the role since she was already committed to a Broadway play. Ginger Rogers was offered the role of Mary, but turned it down. It was Donna Reed’s first starring role.
Originally ended with “Ode to Joy”, not “Auld Lang Syne”. When composer Dimitri Tiomkin’s original score for the finale (featuring “Ode To Joy”) was eliminated, tracks of Alfred Newman’s score from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) were used instead, most notably the chorus singing “Hallelujah”.
In 1947, an FBI analyst submitted, without comment, an addition to a running memo on “Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry,” recording the opinion of an industry source who said that the film’s “obvious” attempt to discredit bankers “is a common trick used by Communists.”
The gym floor that opens up to reveal a swimming pool was real and was located at
Vincent Price was considered for the part of Mr. Potter.
The instant that George says “God” on the bridge, it starts snowing, showing that he is back in the real world.
The cigarette lighter seen in this film (the one which George wishes he had a million dollars on) was previously seen in another Frank Capra film, You Can’t Take It with You (1938).
The set for
The raven, named Jimmy, appeared in all of Frank Capra’s movies.
Two of “Sesame Street” (1969)’s Muppets, Bert and Ernie, share their names with the film’s cop and cab driver, respectively, but this is said to be just a coincidence. When Officer Bert shoots at George, the “s” and the “v” in the electric “Pottersville” sign far away in the distance, go out.
While filming the scene where George prays in the bar, James Stewart has said that he was so overcome that he began to sob right then and there. Later, Frank Capra reframed the shot so it looked like a much closer shot than was actually filmed because he wanted to catch that expression on Stewart’s face.
The film has two lines of “secret dialog” - spoken quietly through a door. (They can be heard when amplifying the volume, and are also explicitly depicted in the closed-captioning.) The lines occur at the end of the scene set in Bailey’s private office with Bailey and his son George, and Potter and his goon present. After George raves to Potter that “you can’t say that about my father”, he is ushered out of the room by his father, then George is shown standing outside the office door. At that moment, George overhears the following two lines of dialog through the glass pane of the door behind him: POTTER: What’s the answer? BAILEY: Potter, you just humiliated me in front of my son.
Pharmacist Gower’s son’s death at college is attributed to “Influenza” in the telegram that Young George reads, dated
The name of
The scene on the bridge where Clarence saves George was filmed on a back lot on a day where the temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why James Stewart is visibly sweating in a few scenes.
Despite being set around Christmas, it was filmed during a heat wave. It got to be so hot that Frank Capra gave everyone a day off to recuperate.
According to an interview with Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played Zuzu, the name Zuzu comes from Zu Zu Ginger Snaps. George makes reference to this near the end of the movie when he says to Zu Zu at the top of the stairs, “Zuzu my little Ginger Snap!”
Impressions of A Wonderful Life!
"This show invites today's audience to face shaky times with the hope that there can be redemption in faith and love. This is the heady stuff of which dreams are made, and at WBT, it's perfectly packaged for the holidays!" Bill Primavera of The Examiner.
"A Wonderful Life will please fans of the movie and likely win over converts who suffer from the bah Humbug virus about this time of year. " Chesley Plemmons of The News-Times
"This is a perfect Christmas treat for a holiday night out or gift for that person who, this year, might have nothing. Check it out. You will be glad you did. We need a little ‘feel good’." Judie Phillips of The Cue
"Today’s economic climate makes the WBT production especially poignant and will make you feel all warm and mushy at the end with more hope than you had when you walked in. A Wonderful Life is Mark Twain, Normal Rockwell, Life magazine, filled with the optimism, the heartbreak, the spirit of a small town and the hope in every human being." John Bailey of The White Plains Citizen Net Reporter
"Never before has the classic story, A Wonderful Life, been more apropos than now when we are told, finally, we have been in a recession for more than a year. After watching the struggles of financial institutions, the story of George Bailey and his family’s savings and loan has special resonance." Fran Sikorski of Hersam-Acorn Newspapers
"We get a chance to see us as we’ve been longing to see us before the plague set in: good people, kind people, caring people, hopeful people. The way we want to be. And without embarrassment. No sneering at the simple, heart plucking story of George Bailey. It’s all right. In fact, it’s better than all right; A Wonderful Life is so huggable, so heartfelt, and, yes, so corny, that somehow, you feel refreshed. corny? So what? Before corn was corn, it was nourishing and it is again. Hell, it runs cars. The show is long? Again, so what, if every inch is paved with the breath of belief in the story?" Eugene Paul of Theater Scene.net
Robert Stoeckle (as Matthew) and Darin Depaul (as Clarence) Plan Clarence's Mission which will earn him his wings!
A Wonderful Life's Wonderful Wunder- Kids!!
We often feature talented local kids in our shows. A Wonderful Life is no exception! In fact, these kids are truly (
Clockwise l to r: Sarah Heinzman, Sharon Rosenthal, Cosmo Zappoli, Michael Herwitz, Matthew Nardozzi, Sofia Singer and Sofia Hantzaridis.
Sofia Hantzaridis, (ZuZu,) is nine years old and is in 3rd grade. She attends Washington Irving Elementary School, In
Sarah Heinzmann, (Beth) is in 7th grade at
Michael Herwitz, (Tommy) is from
Matthew Nardozzi, (Tommy) has been a professional actor since the age of six. He was recently seen in Inherit The Wind on Broadway with Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy. He can also be seen on the new Schoolhouse Rock dvd and in commercials. Matthew is a member of Broadway Kids Care, a philanthropic organization made up of past and present Broadway child performers. The group performs community service and charity work. Their work has enabled contributions to UNICEF, The Actors’ Home, The
Sharon Rosenthal, (Beth) is delighted to be making her Westchester Broadway Theatre debut. She has performed in Random Farms Kids Theatre and The Missoula Children’s Theatre productions, in addition to camp and school shows. Prior shows/roles include Beauty and the Beast (Belle), 101 Dalmatians (Cruella De Vil), and Alice in Wonderland (White Rabbit). She also has commercial and voiceover credits.
Sofia Singer, (ZuZu) is 7 years old. Currently, she is in 2nd grade at
Cosmo Zappoli (Tommy) is proud to make his debut at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. He hails from