Allen Daniel wasn’t planning to play one of America’s most beloved characters.
But after auditioning for “some other roles” in Gypsy Theatre Company’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Daniel got a call.
“They asked if I wanted to play George [Bailey], and I said, ‘OK, I can do that,’” Daniel said.
The character was first portrayed by the legendary James Stewart in the 1946 film directed by Frank Capra.
Daniel and fellow castmates took to the Cumming Playhouse stage in the Christmas classic Friday.
The show will continue Thursday-Sunday through Dec. 18.
The story tells the tale of Bailey, who is faced with overwhelming troubles on Christmas Eve.
Luckily, his guardian angel, Clarence, shows up to help Bailey realize the importance of his life.
He does so by showing him what would’ve happened to others had he never been born.
Daniel, who recently returned to his home of Cumming after nine years in the U.S. Air Force, said Bailey is his first role on the playhouse stage.
“It’s a lot to live up to,” he said. “But it’s fun and exciting, to say the least.
“I feel like the cast has become a family.”
Danielle Gustaveson, stage manager of the show, said it’s truly a local production.
“Of the 22 cast members, 20 of them are from Cumming,” she said.
Derrel Emmerson, who plays the angel Clarence, said the role is one he’s sought for some time.
“Clarence is an encourager and that’s how I feel I am in life,” Emmerson said. “The role was a natural one for me.”
Emmerson said he’s been a fan of the film for more than 30 years.
“It’s a tradition in our family to watch it every year,” he said. “My family will be bringing about 50 people to come see me in this show.”
The production’s director, Mercury, who goes by just one name, said he was pleased to have the chance to lead such a classic.
“It’s a wonderful cast, it’s a wonderful show, it’s a wonderful life,” he joked.
Like Emmerson, he said he’s a big fan of the film.
“I’m pleased it’s on 100 times during the Christmas season so I can catch it at least once,” he said.
Mercury added this version of the play is “very true to the film.”
“Some others aren’t,” he said. “But this one truly captures all the magic.”