Families are invited to be swept into the spirit of Bedford Falls when BAPA and BACinema host “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Holiday Experience” at the Beverly Arts Center on Dec. 22. From the colorful Welcome to Bedford Falls sign to the cozy Martini’s Bar (where you don’t have to be an angel to order mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon), the BAPA has partnered with the BAC to create the first of what they hope will be an annual tradition, transforming our community’s art center into holiday destination.
BAC Executive Director Denise Powell and BAPA Executive Director Mary Jo Viero are joined by BAC Artistic Director Kevin Pease and BAPA Business Liaison Brittany Wiley in developing the inspired ideas for bringing the holiday magic of the beloved 1946 movie to life in Beverly/Morgan Park.
“It’s the perfect movie for our ‘Love Where You Live’ community, and the BAC is the perfect place to start an amazing new holiday tradition,” Viero said. Viero’s idea to transform the BAC into Bedford Falls for the holidays was influenced by her visits to the annual “It’s a Wonderful Life” screening at Music Box Theater. But the BAC’s version will be a lot bigger and better, building a simple movie screening into full scale family-friendly experience.
The BAC had already scheduled the movie screening, but Powell said she had some misgiving about how to entice audiences to the Center so close to Christmas. “Why wouldn’t people stay home and watch it on TV?” she said. Then Viero came up with the idea of bringing the small town charm of Bedford Falls to our village in the city community.
“When Mary Jo came up with that idea it made it click,” Powell said, adding that offering a meaningful experience in our community is just what was needed to invite people to “leave the comfort of home and come out to the theater.”
The BAPA/BAC partnership aligns with both organizations’ commitments to fostering a stronger, more vibrant community by working closely with other local organizations. “I could not be more pleased with BAPA,” Powell said, adding that this kind of community engagement fosters the BAC’s mission. “We want to provide the best that can be offered in the arts in Chicago, especially on the South Side.”
Developing the special movie screening as one of its 12 Weeks of Christmas Raffle prize packages, BAPA has purchased scenery and props to create heart-warming details like the Baileys’ Christmas tree, complete with a bell that people can ring to help an angel earn his wings, and other favorite spaces and places from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The winner of the BAPA raffle prize and guests will enjoy free admission, special treats, hot chocolate bar, and adult beverages as well as block of 25 front-and-center seats for the moving screening in the Baffes Theater.
Anyone who buys a ticket to the Dec. 22 movie can enjoy the charming and festive Bedford Falls experiences that are being created at the BAC, including the pre-screening holiday singalong, and they can purchase treats and beverages. Everyone can commemorate the experience by using props and taking photos decked out as George Bailey, Clarence the Angel, Bert and Ernie, mean old Mr. Potter and even little ZuZu.
If you’ve never seen Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” this is a don’t-miss experience! It’s the story of good-hearted George Bailey who dreamed of a life of travel and adventure but found himself tied to Bedford Falls by family and business obligations, including keeping the town safe from the selfish control of the richest man in town, Mr. Potter. George and his Uncle Billy operate Bailey’s Building & Loan – the only option open to townspeople who want to buy their own homes and save for a good life. On Christmas Eve, Uncle Billy misplaces the Building & Loan’s cash bank deposit, and Mr. Potter swoops in, threatening to ruin George Bailey and the business. Desperate, George contemplates that the world would be better off without him, but before he can act, Clarence the Angel arrives to show George how much he means to Bedford Falls.
The drawing for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Bedford Falls at the BAC is Fri., Dec. 3, 5 p.m. Ticket sales close at 3 p.m. at bapa.org. The screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in Bedford Falls at the BAC is Wed., Dec. 22, 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 at beverlyartcenter.org.