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A Wonderful LifeCover to DVD

Music Joe Raposo; Book and Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; Based on the film A Wonderful Life directed by Frank Capra.

First presented in 1991 Washington DC; Broadway Concert version Shubert Theatre, 2005,

Paper Mill Playhouse Production 8th November, 2006 - 17th December, 2006


The story closely follows the original plot of the film, set in 1945, telling the story of a suicidal man whose guardian angel reveals to him how different the world, and everyone whose life he has touched, would be had he never been born. The film was, in turn, based on a 1938 short story by Philip Van Doren Stern called The Greatest Gift.


As a child, George risked his own life to save his brother from drowning. As he grew older, his countless small deeds mattered very much in the lives of the Bedford Falls townspeople. George prepares to leave town and go to college to fulfill his dream of building skyscrapers. However, when his father, the president of the small Bailey Building and Loan Company, dies, George postpones his dreams, manages the family company, and finds happiness in his marriage to Mary Hatch. When Uncle Billy accidentally misplaces company funds, George faces financial ruin and almost certain imprisonment. Seeing no way out, he runs to the bridge over the river, prepared to plunge to his death. Enter Clarence, George's lovable, bumbling guardian angel, who has come to Bedford Falls to prove to George that his life is worth living and to earn wings for himself. He grants George one wish: to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. Suddenly Bedford Falls is a very unpleasant place: the bustling small town main street is lined with pool halls and saloons; none of his friends or family recognize him, not even his beloved wife, Mary, who, in this world without him, is a prim spinster. Pursued by police, George returns to the bridge and begs to have his life back. Clarence grants it and George runs home to find his children, his wife, and a town that rallies to support him. Finally, George comes to realize…it truly is a wonderful life.

Musical Numbers

Act I

  1. George’s Prayer (George, Harry,Potter, Sam and the Ensemble)
  2. This Year Europe (George and the Ensemble)
  3. One of the Lucky Ones/Can You Find Me a House (Tom and George)
  4. In a State (Sam)
  5. A Wonderful Life (Sam, M.C., George, Mary and the Ensemble)
  6. If I Had a Wish (George and Mary)
  7. One of the Lucky Ones (Reprise) (George, Tom and the Ensemble)
  8. Wings (Clarence, Joseph and the Ensemble)
  9. Ruth/On To Pittsburg (Harry and George)
  10. Good Night (George and Mary)
  11. Not What I Expected (Mary, George and the Ensemble)
  12. Panic at the Loan Building (George, Billy and the Ensemble)
  13. A Wonderful Life - Reprise (Mary and George)

Act II

  1. Can You Find Me a House - (Reprise) (The Ensemble)
  2. When You Own Your Own Home (Dominick, Paul, Anthony, Mr. Martini and the Ensemble) *
  3. First Class All the Way (Mr. Potter)
  4. I Couldn’t Be with Anyone but You (Mary)
  5. Welcome a Hero (The Ensemble)
  6. Christmas Gifts (Beth and Tommy)
  7. Precious Little (George)
  8. . George's Prayer (Reprise) (George)
  9. Unborn Sequence (George, Clarence, Uncle Billy, Mr. Martin, Ernie, Violet, Matt, Mary, Milly and the Ensemble)
  10. A Wonderful Life - Reprise (George)
  11. Welcome the Hero - Reprise (Ensemble)
  12. Finale: Christman Gifts (Zuzu, Beth, Tommy and the Company)


  • Matthew - an executive angel
  • Clarence - George Bailey's guardian angel
  • George Bailey
  • Tom Bailey - George's father
  • Milly Bailey - George's mother
  • Uncle Billy - Tom's brother
  • Harry Bailey - George's younger brother
  • Ruth Reynolds - Harry's wife
  • Mary Hatch - George's sweetheart, later his wife
  • Mrs. Hatch - Mary's mother
  • Beth Bailey - age 10
  • Tommy Bailey - age 9
  • Zuzu Bailey - age 7
  • Henry Potter - Bedford Falls' wealthiest (and nastiest) citizen
  • Harriet - Potter's assistant
  • Accountant - Potter's accountant
  • Bert - a policeman
  • Ernie - a cab driver
  • Mr. Martini - owner of Martini's Restaurant
  • Mrs. Martini - Mr. Martini's wife
  • Violet Bick - Mary Hatch's closest friend
  • Sam Wainwright - George's friend and rival
  • Karen Zimmer - the M.C. at Harry's graduation dance
  • Mr. Carter - the bank examiner
  • Bob Hepner - owner of a luggage shop
  • Bank Teller
  • Minister
  • Detective
  • Hepner
  • Walt
  • Stuart

Singing-dancing ensemble of Townspeople, High-School Students, Charleston Dancers, etc. with numerous small roles and much doubling possible.

Scenes and Settings

The show takes place in and around Bedford Falls, New York, from 1928 to 1945.

  • A Secluded Spot Near Henry Potter's Home
  • Heaven
  • Hepner's Luggage Shop
  • Main Street
  • The Bailey Home: Dining Room
  • The Parlor
  • Gymnasium
  • Bedford Falls High School
  • A Street near The Granville House
  • The Bailey Building and Loan Association
  • A Street Near Mary Hatch's Home
  • Mary Hatch's Home: The Parlour
  • A Church
  • The Granville House: The Parlour
  • George & Mary's Bedroom
  • Zuzu's Bedroom
  • Bailey Park: The Martini's New House
  • Henry Potter's Office
  • Streets of Bedford Falls
  • Henry Potter's Bank
  • Henry Potter's Parlor
  • A Railroad Crossing
  • Martini's Restaurant


1 KEYBOARD 1 (Synthesizer and Optional Piano)
1 KEYBOARD 2 (Synthesizer)
1 REED 1 (Flute, Clarinet, Soprano Sax, Alto Sax)
1 REED 2 (Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet, Tenor Sax)
1 REED 3 (Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Sax)
1 TRUMPET 1 (Doubles Flugelhorn)
1 TRUMPET 2 (Doubles Flugelhorn)
1 PERCUSSION (see list below)
1 Programming Disks