George Bailey and all of his friends and family from Bedford Falls are now appearing in Branson.
Silver Dollar City’s musical adaptation of the popular holiday movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” opens this week at Silver Dollar City.
“For many people, it is a family tradition to watch the movie every year and it is a wonderful show,” said Brad Schroeder, executive producer of the show, as well director of entertainment and events at Silver Dollar City. “What better place to tell the story of the most popular Christmas show but here at the park.”
The stage production has been a long time in the making.
“We first started talking about the idea six years ago,” Schroeder said. “We knew we were going to have to have a replacement for ‘A Dickens’ Christmas Carol.’ We really started doing our homework five years ago and got permission to do the show four years ago. The owners though, they really don’t want ‘Dickens’ to go away.”
And, it is not. “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol” begins its 10th season this weekend and has been seen by more than 1 million visitors.
“The thing about ‘Dickens’ and ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ that make them work so well is, its about people, human emotions and their back stories,” he said.
Schroeder said the two shows though are very different. “It’s A Wonderful Life” is performed in the Red Gold Heritage Hall. “Dickens” is performed in the Opera House Theater.
“We’ve never done a 20 scene theatrical production in here,” he said about the Red Gold Heritage Hall.
He said there wasn’t an existing stage and much of the scenery is through production.
“It is very different from what people see at ‘Dickens,’” he said.
He hopes though that it will be just as loved.
“Selfishly, it is personally one of my favorite stories,” he said.
Turning such a popular movie though into a stage production has its challenges.
Schroeder said they turned the 130 minute movie into 60 minute stage production and added music. The show has a cast of 14 actors who play 25 different roles in 20 different scenes.
“Anytime you adapt something so well known you run the risk of them leaving hot or cold,” he said. “If they leave saying I know the movie but I like this rendition just as well, that would be a huge compliment.”
He said audience members can expect some of Silver Dollar City’s own touches throughout the show.
“We always like to surprise our guests because if you think you know the movie, you still have to see our show,” he said.
“It’s A Wonderful Life” is part of Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas festival, which begins Nov. 3 and runs through Dec. 30.
For more information, visit silverdollarcity.com.