About + Appreciation
It's A Wonderful Life One Man Show Frank Capra Jimmy Stewart Donna Reed Nick Addeo
It's A Wonderful Life One Man Show Frank Capra Jimmy Stewart Donna Reed Nick Addeo

The Director Interviews The Actor/Deviser

October 23, 2019

How long have you been working on this project?
Technically for the last 4 months but it’s been in my mind for about 10 years that I wanted to do something like this.

What do you mean something like this?
A performance of this type.

What is this type?
A one man show of the entire movie.

So you will be performing the entire movie?
Yes, my goal is that when the audience is sitting looking at the stage and when the lights come up, they are seeing a theatrical representation of the movie they know done by one person.

What made you come up with the idea…10 years ago?
Well for a while I would imagine doing entire television episodes from memory for an audience because I enjoy doing that so much…imitations. Then I began to audio record myself doing scenes from It’s A Wonderful Life and then put them on my website.

What drew you to It’s A Wonderful Life?
I began watching the movie It’s A Wonderful Life as a child during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I was intrigued by the story and there were parts that made me laugh and ultimately moved me emotionally and being an imitator from a young age the wide range of characters gave me great material to imitate for fun. And as I grew older and had life experience behind me I began to understand the movie’s meaning the small things people were saying a lot better.

When did you find that the stage was going to become your vocation?
I guess it was a long process over my life since I was a child I had experienced being onstage performing and into my teenage years I had experiences being in small theatrical productions and in my 20s which were almost entirely spent in the military I continued performing in musicals and plays and then when I became a civilian again and finished my college degree. I think that’s when I realized that the performing arts were going to be my pursuit in life as a career.

What was your college degree?
A bachelor of arts in music.

When did you figure out that you would like to transfer the movie to the stage?
I guess 6-10 years ago when I actually began visualizing myself onstage performing scenes from the movie.

So just scenes?
Well, performing the movie onstage.

So how would you describe these last 4 months in terms of working on bringing this production to fruition?
Extremely stressful. Difficult and sometimes heartbreaking but overall knowing that I am actually going to accomplish my dream of executing this performance is an exciting and fun experience.

Can you describe the process?
I began by finding a completed script of It’s A Wonderful Life online. Then I had to listen to the movie and read along with the script and correct the script so that it is an exact reflection of the dialogue which seems to be a constant process throughout the entire rehearsal period. And actually discussing the idea with my wife Catherine Taormina because I desperately needed her help with adaptation to the stage, direction and overall keeping me on track to get this project completed in addition to many important tasks that I may not have thought of that are necessary for the production.

Such as for example?
Such as the way props will be needed or eliminated. Acquisition of props. Ideas for lighting and scenic design. Building the website you are on now and overall emotional support.

What’s a typical rehearsal like?
A typical rehearsal session begins with watching the scene we are about to block then I actually read the scene in character so that I can get out of my system that I ran the scene…imitated the scene…and then we begin the difficult task of blocking each movement and eye line for the stage. I say difficult because the movie is so ingrained in my mind since childhood emotionally that when anything has to be compromised for the purpose of accomplishing this feat onstage it is very painful emotionally for me to make those small adjustments but I found out during this whole process that they are necessary.

How small is a small adjustment for example?
It could be something as small as a physical action which creates a sound cue that has specific memorable lines after it or it could even be as simple as a glance that is done in the movie but because I am only one man, one actor, making that glance could confuse an audience that is only watching one person.

How long is a typical rehearsal?
A typical rehearsal could be from 1 hour to 6 hours depending on interruptions during the day or our emotional state.


The Actor Interviews The Director/Deviser

October 23, 2019

What are your main challenges with directing this particular show?
The main challenges with directing this particular show is dealing with one person, one actor handling every aspect of the performance presentation. Meaning that the success of the show rests on just one person. So I want that person to be the best possible representative of that show because it is also a reflection of my job.

What is the difference for you between directing a straight forward play and directing an adaption of a movie?
The difference is maintaining the vision of the original. When I’ve directed other pieces I am using my own vision for the interpretation of the script whereas in this situation I am looking to maintain the vision of another person’s interpretation of the script.

Did you know the movie very well before this production?
I would say I knew more of the love of the movie before doing the production. I had seen the movie probably a total of two times and it was memorable but I also have the edge of hearing you do so many scenes from the movie over and over and my overall understanding of the movie was enhanced and broadened because I was constantly surrounded by your recitings of pieces of the movie so it’s as if I saw it many times or heard it many times when I think in total I only saw it twice.

Has the story changed for you in any way since dissecting it line by line?
I would say the story is definitely more meaningful to me personally after dissecting it because there are elements of the whole mission of the story through George’s character, that I see the struggle of the character, and the depth of the struggle, and the variances, and the conflicting motivations for the George character. And also kind of like a one-sidedness of George, that is the one side of failure. And how failure, when one is failing, is multi-dimensional and kind of…someone drowns in their failure. It kind of like snowballs. When failure is happening just everything starts failing around somebody. So it can be…it has many sides to it. Somebody is just a…as if they are like drowning in…being attacked from all sides by failure.

So you found more meaning…you found the meaning by slowly inspecting. You were able to slowly read the script and digest it at your own pace so you were able to glean the meaning that maybe that…

I wouldn’t say at my pace. It’s like an extremely, extremely slow pace. I would say that, that movie happens really fast but at the rate that we watch it, in the snippets that we watch it, there is so much to digest. So, the digesting has many aspects of philosophy.

Are you working on any other projects of your own besides It’s A Wonderful Life?

(giggling) I’m always working on some sort of project of my own but in particular yes I’m writing my web-series that one day it would be nice to see it produced and …while I’m still youngish looking (giggling) because I’d also like to star in it. But it’s really made for somebody that doesn’t (giggling) really look over 40.

Well you don’t.

(slight giggle).

Do you feel that after when your job is completed here that you can basically do anything? After having done this?

Um, well I’ve always thought I could do anything. Whether or not I’m a success at it is another story. Um, success meaning will I receive praise and laudations and financial remuneration from the outside is very different than what actually happens internally for the sense of success. It’s two completely different things. So, I always feel successful when I am creating something.

That’s great. Cuz you never know, just like the movie… here they created this movie and it did get great reviews. It was up for an academy award. It didn’t get it. I think maybe one aspect may have gotten, I don’t know I’m not sure I have to look it up. But then it went black basically the movie til the early 1970s so they weren’t thinking…they did a creative project it was done and everyone moved on.

What year was this movie?


''46 …what other movies were up for awards that year?

That year I don’t know I’d have to look it up.

I mean it was up for awards?

It was up. Yeah, It was well received. It’s just that not too long after it went into obscurity, literally.

Well it wouldn’t have gone into obscurity if it won some of the more publicly prominent awards. I mean if it won for sound or if it won for costuming that’s not like publicly prominent. I mean usually awards are given to movies that have such an impact cinematically or character wise and so I’d have to see what the other movies were and then examine why they would have gotten those awards.

That’s a good question, Now I want to look it up.

The other movies that were up for awards…yeah.

Yeah, yeah, cuz it’s like sometimes you just can’t …it doesn’t mean your movie didn’t deserve like the academy award but what are you up against? Like in 1939 you had all those great movies.

Yeah, like when we examine that movie in the way we are doing now and we’re living in 2019 and having been exposed to so may movies and so many technological advances within cinema so that’s where our basis is coming from. But when we look at 1946 we almost have to look at the other movies at the time because we’re too critical I mean examining it in this way it almost makes me feel that they did a rush job with that movie. I would say a rush job as far a production goes. Maybe not pre-production.

So wait a minute. What was it that you thought was a rush job?

The production of the movie I think it almost looked like a rush job. I could be wrong. There was so much in that movie, ok, so much and who knows even what their shooting schedule was. How many days did they shoot? Like all that has to be examined and that movie has so much in it that to… I mean like if they said they shot it in like 30 days it’s like oh my god.

No, it wasn’t like that I don’t think so. It had to be longer than 30 days.

But still it could have been 30 days spread out. Even at that it almost has that feel. I mean that feel could be there because of the editing. I don’t think it won for editing.

Because of the little things in there?

Yeah. I mean...like yeah.

Well I would say...well, what I do know is that Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart as I’ve told you, this was their favorite film. It was Frank Capra’s favorite film he ever did… it was the pinnacle. And Jimmy Stewart said that was his favorite role he ever played. And Frank Capra did say that with that movie everything just …it was like magic. Everyone was available that he wanted. Just things, everything worked out. So as far as rush job, I don’t know. But what’s unique about your perspective is that you didn’t grow up watching this movie. I mean you’re not the only one, a lot of people, I know people that never saw it. I’m like you haven’t seen it? you know, but it happens you know? And I’m more used to people who have, who know it, sometimes I recite lines with people. So it’s unique, and good, to hear the opinion of someone who’s not raised on this seeing it all their life so you have a more pristine clearer vision of it.

Yeah, my perspective and my vibe, my feel of the movie is that Jimmy Stewart is so noisy. He’s constantly, what it sounds like is, he is constantly yelling, he’s constantly on edge. And I get it, but as a first time watcher, it’s not a sound or a tone that appeals to me. So it’s like I don’t want to hear that sound or tone. I’m also not a fan of black and white movies. Um, I can’t think of one black...maybe I’d have to think of a black and white movie that I’m like ahh...it’s one of my favorite films! There’s so much about color that I love and um I can’t…

Young Frankenstein?

Young Frankenstein? oh...um “roll, roll, roll in the hay”...


Um...that’s almost different because by then they had been able to work on the contrast of a movie where it didn’t seem so contrasty? So that you know Madeline Khan looked like Madeline Khan you know. People weren’t you know wiped out. I mean even like the Misfits or um Some Like It Hot it’s just like .…

...well, Some Like it Hot

...was not color...

Oh I’m thinking of The Seven Year Itch.

Yeah, no, yeah, um. Still contrasty you know. But movies that are more modern like um Young Frankenstein or Ed Wood that are done in black and white…there’s something that they’ve tempered the black and whiteness where it’s not as contrasty and of course the film is newer and who knows what duplicate they’re working with where the generations have been lost you know. Yeah, that’s what I think. So those qualities don’t appeal to me. That’s why at some point I even had said “this movie could be redone” you know but um...I don’t know...to replace Jimmy Stewart with that...with that vibe. It would be like someone is imitating that energy or the energy would be so different it would definitely not be the same. It would not have that nostalgia that it has I mean they’ve redone Jane Eyre and it’s just …not the same. They’ve redone Wuthering Heights and it’s just …not the same. Um, they redo so many things and it’s just …not the same. It’s best not to redo great ones. But I mean you know doing this movie I never would think that they could redo it and yet I’m thinking watching it slowly "oh this could be redone" because there are moments that are visually in black and white...they’re so confusing...like the honeymoon scene when he comes home and she’s sitting there or standing there with having that great table prepared I mean if that was in color it would have looked so gorgeous and you know all that life and energy she’s giving to him in black and white it’s kind of like just washed out and even some of those shots. I mean they’re not known for their shots. I mean…but there are shots that are memorable...like you like seeing his feet diving in…

The close ups, the extreme close ups they had

The extreme close ups you know… those were, but those were like special times and things…it wasn’t even a highly stylized movie but then you see a little bit of that style …whoever made those decisions...if it was like a partnership in the decision to make that …then that’s like a little bit of a style coming out that was able to be revealed.

Well you see I think one of the things for me is that I can like, I think i can forgive everything in the movie.. like every mistake, little editing thing or, because I love it so much and I see little things...little edit glitches here and there it’s like I’m so biased you know, that I can forgive it all. So I think when we are recreating it...because I am so in love with it and can forgive it all, your perspective being different and wanting to make things clearer let’s say for the stage, it…I’m not..

Well I’m not making it clearer for the stage I’m just thinking I was referring to remaking the actual film.

Yeah I know...you know they actually colorized it? I think there is a colorized version of it. I never saw it. I’m curious about it, you know. I’m not into colorization but I’m curious to see what they did. They colorized March of the Wooden Soldiers.

What were we talking about the other day? I’m like "I would like to see that colorized". I don’t care if they colorized it you know? I mean I would say… One last thing...that I think when I first saw it, of course my favorite character was the angel.


Just aaa, that, that actor’s presence. Just calm. I gravitate towards calm, nice, loving people you know. And George is someone that I would not gravitate towards because he is so upset and angry and just misguided and misaligned and you know he is not living the life he wants to live and I have issues with people not living the life they want to live you know? I have issues with people not sticking to their guns and doing what they want and falling into situations instead of you know mastering what they’re in and then moving from there from that point or overcoming where they are and moving from that point. Not that I think that his character settled? He was at odds with being at service to others. And service to others is something that has to be a choice that one is ok with and he wasn’t ok with it you know? Some people are great at serving others, that’s all they want to do. You know? People that are...that go into professions of serving others like nurse or hospice or doctors not so much…they’re serving the great good instead of actually others you know…

Well I think the last thing as far as cuz i know we’ve talked about this before George’s motivation or whatever like he’s at odds with helping others.

Oh I was saying yeah he was at odds with the position he kind of fell into...he didn’t chose that.

It almost as if he has a split personality and they’re both acting at the same time which keeps him on edge he wants to be this adventurous, he wants to do his own thing goodbye everybody I hate this town I hate everything I’m out of here. But he can’t leave knowing that if he leaves someone’s gonna you know he’s not taking care of something before, he’s he could be helping somebody but no he’s gonna do what he wants to do and leaves he can’t get himself to say “I’m sorry I have to do my thing”. His other side is saying I can’t not help that person. I can’t leave this situation.

Well he had the limitation of finances. I mean if he had all the money in the world, money would have taken care of everything. But he didn’t have the money so he found himself compelled to stay.

So in a way he..

Maybe...and that’s what I don’t like about him and his character but that’s what makes the character and what makes the story is that he hates so much his town but is still there helping the people anyway so it’s like he’s doing things begrudgingly and you see that when he kicks his car and you know

Destroys his little plans of building bridges

Well at that point that’s when he was, you know, really beyond…beyond um ...when he was a trapped, like beyond, you know trapped to the point of bankr.., he was going to go to jail and bankruptcy when he saw that but earlier on he kicks the car and, you know, and his wife is standing there and she’s not kicking the car with him , she’s not kicking the car and complaining about her impoverished situation which is dependent on him.. she’s in that impoverished situa… or seemingly impoverished... they’re not impoverished.. but they make you think that they are... they’re actually you know not well off but they’re doing better than the people that are getting loans from them you know?

She has more emotional intelligence....

...So the idea is that they're poor, but they’re not. They’re not poor, you know?

Well that’s I guess that’s the moral of the story where God had to say, “Hey George”. And it’s a God message, which I like.

It’s definitely a God message. It’s a message of spirit, you know.

And I like how he prayed. You know in the film he he you know he finally said a prayer and it was answered.

But it had to come to strife to pray, it had to come to the end to pray, it had to come to that to pray, where he was his hands were tied and that’s the other thing that I don’t really like, but that’s part of the message, it’s speaking to those people in those situations I’m not one of those people in those situations you know? So it doesn’t speak to me in the same way. But that message was not necessarily for me, you know? I get it from the other characters like um Clarence you know his message his message…

“How’m I doing Joesph. Thanks.”

I can’t even relate to Mary you know. Um, I can’t relate to anybody in that movie really …except for little Clarence. That’s how I feel.

That’s great - he was one of the best characters in the movie.

I know! that’s why I loved him. You kind of relate to, you kind of love the character you can relate to you know um.

What’s interesting I mean what’s interesting I’m thinking you’re making me think about it… Clarence he was so peaceful you know he’s a heavenly creature you know what I mean he’s from heaven now. He had a little stint on earth but it’s nothing compared to how long he’s been in heaven 200 and something years in heaven.

And the stint on earth is only what you see in… when he makes his appearance in Bedford Falls right?

Yeah, so his whole attitude and personality it’s like when, I mean he’s not Jesus but like when Jesus said “I am” what does he say “I’m above the earth or I am above the world now” you know "I am not of this world, I‘m above the world” it’s like in other words “the world doesn’t affect me. I’m not of this world. I’m not, I don’t worry about this, I don’t worry about that”.

I don’t remember that.

Yeah I’ll have to look it up.

I was just thinking "I am the resurrection and the life he who believes in me will live a new life”, you know.

Yeah, yeah, I’ll find the quote. but it’s kind of like Clarance is there and he’s like you know, I want my wings yes, but you know, I don’t feel these..

It’s funny that he has a task and a job and he’s gotta work hard at doing it and you know that’s what I love… him thinking, he’s thinking “oh oh” you know he’s mumbling to himself like “ah, ah, wait a minute, good idea” he’s listening, he’s a listener you know and he’s a thinker and um …a deviser. (Giggles)

Thanks my love, thanks for answering my questions and providing me more…

Thanks for asking them.