Friday, December 18, 2020

It's A Wonderful Life - Radio Play by Philip Grecian (Bakersfield Community Theatre 2020)


I figured I had better write this up since tonight and tomorrow night are the last shows. As fans of live theater, me and my family have tried to support our local theaters during the challenge of Covid-19. Fortunately, our community has a lot of creativity and determination, and has found ways of keeping the arts alive. 


In this case, Bakersfield Community Theater did a Zoom production of the Philip Grecian radio- play adaptation of It’s A Wonderful Life. BCT is on a Grecian roll, having recently done the radio play version of Dracula. This production was significantly more ambitious than the last one, as the cast of characters and settings are a good bit larger. Also, it is a long play. 


I won’t waste time on the plot - I doubt there are many on the planet who haven’t seen Frank Capra’s classic film starring Jimmy Stewart. 


I did at least want to mention a few things about this particular production. First, Carlos Vera, who played George Bailey - the central role - did a fine job, and captured some fun Jimmy Stewartisms along the way. Vera has been in shows all over town for years, and is by now a fixture of local theater. Earlier in his career, he played mostly angry or edgy characters, and he has always been intense in his menace and fury. More recently, he has branched out, and this show was an example of how he has grown in his acting. It is tough to play the earnest and sincere lead, but I enjoyed what he did with it. 


Kari Rothstein (Mary) and Jan Hefner (Clarence) also carried their roles as sweet and sincere characters well. Much of the rest of the cast had to play multiple roles, and, given the time constraints, no sets, and lack of costume directors, it must have been a challenge to keep them distinguished. I had to work at it a few times, and was glad I know the movie well enough. This is not a criticism of the actors, but just an acknowledgement that in a Zoom play, there are challenges. I know I am missing people (and couldn’t find a cast list), but kudos to Fred Cremer, Kathy Henry, Rob Lang, Joe Campbell, Jackie Thompson-Mercer, Deva Wiloth, Judith Holtz, Terry Willey, Julie Gaines, and Lizzy Lake, and anyone else I forgot. Nicely done, and thank you for what you do to make our community a better place. 


Hey, watch this play, keep our arts scene alive, and cheer on some of the best people in our community. 



  1. The timing of this review couldn't be better, from a China nerd's perspective: the DOJ unsealed an arrest warrant earlier today against a PRC-based Zoom employee who "allegedly participated in a scheme to disrupt a series of meetings... held to commemorate the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre..." ( Tech generally and Zoom specifically have been of particular note to China-watchers, especially since the pandemic has driven such widespread adoption of its services; the ONLY tech company I'm aware of to voluntarily abandon the "China market" is Google, and even that has proven to be VERY conditional under its current CEO. Later in the day, Zoom published this ( response, which has some good things in it, geo-fencing Zoom data not involving a PRC-based participant, limiting PRC-based employees' data access, requiring all "government requests" to be vetted by Zoom's US legal department, but my cynicism leaves me with... doubts, let's say. Given the CCP's trajectory on human rights and international hostility since AT LEAST Xi Jinping's ascension to power, the morally correct thing to do is to pull completely out, but the lure of money continues to prove too strong. Even the Germans, who you'd think would know better than to deal with a Party running concentration camps... (

    I read with interest your posts on Dominionism and Ted Cruz earlier today; another faction of American Christianity I had been largely unaware of, at least in the... extreme details. Cruz's rejection of immigration may be based on more than "mere" religious grounds; earlier today, he refused consent to the passage of a bill that would've granted fleeing Hongkongers special refugee status because he claimed it was a cynical ploy by House Democrats to "chang(e) our immigration laws," that "would be used by the Chinese Communists to send even more Chinese spies into the United States" ( Cruz starts talking at about 3:44:13 into the session).

    Have you ever met someone who refused to watch anything in black and white because it was "too old?" I've met several, and they've all been younger than me, though not necessarily by much. You'd think the Three Stooges would be enough to convince them to see the error of their ways, but no...

    My local library has "On Gold Mountain;" I'll be interested to see how our reactions compare after I've finished it, and I particularly appreciate the recommendation of an autobiography of a Chinese-American. I read virtually no memoirs or autobios, largely thanks to cynicism developed over the course of several college history classes, so it'll be good to get out of my comfort zone. Oh, and your instinct about the difference between TOURING the PRC and LIVING in it is spot on, speaking of comfort zones; the squat pot is an example that springs instantly, unforgettably to mind!

    On that... HAPPY note, if I don't comment again before the day, Merry Christmas!
    Tim Johnson

    1. *Edit- I speculate about Cruz's motives because I find it difficult to believe that someone who's been so outspoken on Hong Kong is unaware that better than 10% of HK's population are practicing Christians of one variety or another; Carrie Lam, the current figurehead, is a practicing Catholic, Joseph Zen, HK's recently retired Cardinal, seems to be the only ranking Catholic willing to speak out against the Pope's deal with the Party over bishops, and Joshua Wong, arguably HK's most internationally-known dissident, was raised in a church that isn't theologically dissimilar to mainstream Evangelicalism.