Last night I took my mom to see the live stage production of It’s A Wonderful Life at the Saint Paul Hotel. My friend Phil Callen plays George Bailey in a cast that also includes Wild and Twins regular Jim Cunningham, Adena Brumer, Jennifer Edward-Hughes, Christopher Whiting and Ross Young. This is the fourth year of this production, but my first time seeing it.
The performances are held in the Promenade Ballroom on the main level of the hotel, with tables of eight people set up around the room. For the dinner performances, Executive Chef Lance Kapps created the following menu this year:
- First Course: Sliced Roasted Beets with Feta Cheese and Haricot Verts with Baby Greens served with Horseradish Vinaigrette
- Second Course: Chicken Breast filled with Spinach Mousse with Roasted Shallot Demi-Glace, Parmesan Risotto Cranberry Glazed Baby Carrots
- Third Course: Chocolate Dipped Ginger, Snap Mini Cranberry Trifle Martini, Candy Cane Chocolate-Raspberry Roulade
The food was excellent and the servers were swift and unobtrusive during the performance. An open bar was available in the foyer for drinks before the show and during the two short intermissions.
The performance itself was split into two parts: Christmas carols at the beginning, followed by the entire It’s A Wonderful Life play. The fictional radio station WBFR serves as the backdrop to the entire night and was reminiscent of watching A Prairie Home Companion – right down to the live sound effects performed by the very talented and funny Mr. Whiting and the radio notes from the audience read on stage after the second intermission.
The cast mingled with the audience during breaks and after the show, which was refreshing. Phil’s wife was there with her mother and I got to talk to Mr. Cunningham about the show I saw him in at Dudley Riggs a long, long time ago. He even remembered the name of the show, once I mentioned it had a lot of songs by Bread. Sex, Lies and Videogames was one funny show and was his first with that theater group.
It’s A Wonderful Life, A Live Radio Play runs through December 23. There are only a few tickets left for selected performances, so check out the schedule and call 651-228-3860 if you want to see the 2009 edition of this new St. Paul tradition. The afternoon tea performances are $55 and the dinner shows are $70.