“Hasn’t Sunset done It’s a Wonderful Life before?”
Ah, how quickly they forget! I’ve been getting this question, or some version of it for weeks now, and the answer is YES. Sunset Playhouse previously produced Wonderful Life in 2008, under the direction of Howard Bashinski, and it was a fine production. Like every show I’ve ever worked on, though, there were certain aspects of the show that I loved, certain aspects of the show that I felt were just OK, and certain aspects that I’d rather forget.
What’s really interesting for me is that after 70+ productions at Sunset Playhouse over the last 9 years, this is the first time that I’ve had to re-design a show. We’ve come close a few times. Escanaba in Love was the prequel to Escanaba in da Moonlight, and was set in the same hunting cabin only 40 years earlier. Both of those were directed by Sunset Artistic Director Mark Salentine, and we were both happy with keeping the same design but simply making it newer-looking with older furnishings.
A few years ago, we produced Oscar and Felix, which is Neil Simon’s modern re-telling of The Odd Couple. Sunset’s 2001 production of The Odd Couple, directed by former Artistic Director Michael Duncan, was my first design for Sunset, and I chose to re-create the design with only minor modern updates for Oscar and Felix.
Our 2010 production of It’s a Wonderful Life is a completely new production, directed by Mark Salentine, with a different concept and therefore different designs throughout. The holidays are all about tradition, and one could say that tradition is basically doing the same thing with just a few differences year after year after year. We hope you’ll come see what we hope will become a new tradition for us!
As a bonus for those of you that remember the last production of It’s a Wonderful Life, here are two behind the scenes photos of our new production for your enjoyment.
J. Michael Desper
Resident Scene Designer/ Technical Director