It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! Closing (Theater and Galleries) Recommended The Short List (Theater) Image

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 28 2015

The relentlessly heartwarming preshow for American Blues Theater’s annual holiday offering nearly ruined my evening: 20 minutes of Christmas sing-alongs, audience birthday announcements, holiday musical quizzes (one just for the kids!), a barbershop rendition of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” and most teeth-grating, the pious thank-you and standing ovation for the prearranged Iraq war vet in the audience (as ever, no chest-thumping thanks to emergency-room nurses or public school teachers for their service). But the savvy performances in director Gwendolyn Whiteside’s expertly paced production, the precision of Michael Mahler’s spirited musical direction, and the ingenuity of Frank Capra’s 1946 film—here adapted into a faux radio broadcast—ultimately left me in a state of pure delight. —Justin Hayford

Price: $19-$49

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