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‘It WAS a Wonderful Life’ returns to Forest Lawn

Western New York theatergoers hankering for holiday-themed fare beyond the countless “Christmas Carols” and Kris Kringle-inspired productions that annually accumulate like lake-effect got a surprising, gift-wrapped package in 2012. And it came from Forest Lawn Cemetery, of all places.

“It WAS a Wonderful Life,” an unlikely little holiday show about the lives and legacies of many of Buffalo’s most fascinating departed citizens, opened that season under the direction of Kavinoky Theatre Managing Director Joseph Demerly. The quirky one-act revue quickly caught onwith audiences in the Forest Lawn Chapel (1411 Delaware Ave.) who saw this locally flavored, nostalgically tinged look into the culture and history of a snowbound city.

Demerly has departed to take a job in Charleston, S.C., but the show will go on under the direction of “It WAS a Wonderful Life” veteran cast member Loraine O’Donnell. She promises a refreshed production featuring some names that will mean much to local musical theater fans: John Fredo, Jenn Stafford, Doug Crane, Kelly Copps, Tim Finnegan and Mary Craig. She also has added two new characters, black Civil War soldier John Dover (Dudney Joseph) and Shirley Chisolm (Anette Christian), the first black woman elected to congress.

Tickets to the show, which opens Nov. 28 and runs through Dec. 27, are $25. Call 885-3079 or visit forest-lawn.com.

-Colin Dabkowski

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