ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Aberdeen Proving Ground's MWR Theater Group spread holiday cheer, performing It's A Wonderful Life at the post theater Dec. 3-4.

The all-volunteer group performed a Saturday evening performance and Sunday matinee of Frank Capra's timeless Christmas classic that originally starred James Stewart and Donna Reed.

"We love the movie, so we wanted to see "It's a Wonderful Life," said retired Army veteran Rudolph Brannigan, who attended the show with his wife, Gloria. "I think the play has an uplifting story for the holiday season. Even during bad times you have to trust that things will get better."

The Brannigans were just two of the nearly 200 people who purchased tickets for the weekend event.

"The theater group is really gathering a following, the audience is growing with each performance," said MWR's Earlene Allen. "A lot of people who saw 'It's a Wonderful Life,' said they would also be purchasing tickets for 'A Christmas Carol.'"

Play director Tricia Devine, who leads the theater group, called the two-hour performance a shining success, thanks to the devotion and skill of the actors.

"We have a very diverse group of people in the cast, but common thread is their utter dedication," said Devine. "Collectively, they put in hundreds of volunteer hours and hundreds of dollars for props and costumes to make this show a success.

"That lets you know it's coming from that heart, and that you're going to get a great show, because these people are in it, just for the love it," she said.

Tim McNamara, the deputy to the garrison commander, attended the show and said it got him and wife Gail in the Christmas spirit. McNamara said he was impressed with the director's adaption.

"I wasn't sure how it would translate from the screen to stage, but it was done well," he said.
McNamara said he was also impressed with the acting skill of the main characters and the graphic scenery.

Devine said she chose to use digital screen graphics instead of costly backdrops to both save money and keep the audience engaged.

"It's a technique I have seen used on Broadway, and I wanted to bring it here to APG," she said. "I received a lot of positive feedback on the digital screens."

Garrison Commander Col. Orlando Ortiz and APG Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Rhoades, who were unable to attend the weekend performances, stopped by the group's Dec. 5 end-of-season wrap party at the recreation center to thank the actors for their performances.

The group will perform A Christmas Carol at the recreation center Dec. 19 at 7 p.m.

Active duty military members and children 12 and under get in free. Tickets are $5 for the general public.

To purchase tickets online or in person, call 410-278-4011/4907 at APG North or 410-436-2713 at APG South.

To view and download photos, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/usagapg/.