Truth be told, there weren't many people in the audience the night we attended This Wonderful Life, the one-person retelling of Frank Capra's beloved 1946 movie about poor ol' put-upon George Bailey and the joys of small-town life in Bedford Falls. We're talking single digits here — a low single digit. How, we wondered before the show began, could an actor sustain a one-man show when there were almost more people onstage than in the house? We needn't have worried. The moment the lights went down and Alan Knoll appeared, exuding the line, "I love It's a Wonderful Life," numbers became irrelevant. Knoll's contagious enthusiasm was supplanted by pitch-perfect impersonations that were drenched in affection. The phrase "labor of love" has become a theater cliché. But Knoll's storytelling was precisely that: a labor of love in which the labor was artfully concealed and the love shone through the performer's boyish grin.
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