BULLHEAD CITY — It wasn’t perfect — opening nights seldom are — but the Mohave High production Wednesday night of “It’s a Wonderful Life” was certainly enjoyable.
Zach Burgess played the lead role of George Bailey, who at the start of the story is standing on a bridge, prepared to take his own life.
An angel named Clarence Odbody (played by Jeffrey Cirelli) shows up and tries to convince Bailey that his life is worth living.
Clarence leads Bailey on a trip through his life and the various ways he has helped people.
Alex Avelar is delightfully evil as Henry Potter, the mogul who owns most of Bedford Falls, where the story is set.
“I like money, and I mainly focused on that and being angry at people,” Avelar said of his preparation for the role. “Playing villains is a good way to vent your emotions.”
Director and MHS drama instructor Casey Amann said he wanted his first play at the school to be a traditional one and that “It’s a Wonderful Life” presents a timeless Christmas story.
“I thought we did really well,” Amann said. “A couple of things went off cue, but we worked around them. I talked to the audience, and they seemed to love it.”
Burgess put on a solid performance as George, in his first lead role.
He said he decided to avoid being himself and react to circumstances as George would.
“He was insecure,” Burgess said. “He feels like he’s failed everybody.”
Burgess said he takes inspiration from the character’s turnaround.
“He inspires me to be a better person,” Burgess said. “To feel better about myself and know that someone will always care for you.”
Some actors, most notably Willow Gazard as Mary Hatch, were hard to hear from the seats in the campus auditorium.
In general, the production stayed true to the 1946 Frank Capra film.
Amann said the cast and crew of 35 to 40 have worked on the play for about two-and-a-half months.
The group will put the show on again at 7 tonight and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday.
They did a student-led murder mystery last month. Amann said the drama students will present a musical in the spring.