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Every time a bell rings...

History Museum, GreenMan offer looks at a Christmas classic

ELMHURST –George Bailey, the reluctant hero of the Christmas classic, "It's a Wonderful Life" returns to our hearts year after year as the film is replayed throughout the hoiday season. And now, the Elmhurst History Museum and GreenMan Theatre Troupe are joining in the annual nostalgia, as both have decided to showcase works involving the classic 1946 American film.

The exhibit, "Hometown Holiday: It's a Wonderful Life in Elmhurst," opened Nov. 16 and will run through Jan. 6, 2019, at the museum, which is at 120 E. Park Ave. in Elmhurst.

The exhibit incorporates a plethora of items from the substantial collection Richard Goodson has developed over time of related movie memorabilia, Executive Director Dave Oberg said.

Oberg said the exhibit includes stories of how the movie was put together, candid behind-the-scenes photos of the cast and crew, information about the cast and the crew, and an edition of Philip Van Doren Stern's short story "The Greatest Gift," which was the basis for the film.

"It's just so fun watching this come together. I feel like I know a lot about the film actually and still I've learned a lot," Oberg said.

He said one of the things he learned was that the movie's character Uncle Billy's pet raven, Jimmy the Raven, also appeared in other Hollywood movies, including appearing as the crow that lands on the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz."

Oberg said that through a licensing technical glitch, the movie became a public domain film, so TV networks would be able to run it frequently, which helped make watching it a holiday tradition.

The museum also added touches of Elmhurst history from around 1945 and 1946 at the back of the exhibit gallery with photos, holiday shopping advertisements, samples of gifts and holiday prints by Lee Sturges, Oberg said.

Oberg said in an email Nov. 19 that about 200 people have seen the exhibit so far and he anticipates many more people will come over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

David Soria, artistic director of Elmhurst's GreenMan Theatre Troupe, is serving as production manager for the troupe's first holiday showcase, "​It's a Wonderful Holiday Show."

The December series kicks of with GreenMan's partnership with Vex Theatre Company to present scripted work and improvised sketches geared for adults in "Twist-a-Carol" Dec. 7 to 9.

One of the stories presented in "Twist-a-Carol" will have Scrooge of "A Christmas Carol" become more and more curmudgeonly after becoming swamped by holiday shopping and family requirements as Christmas approaches, Soria said.

Then, GreenMan will present Dec. 14 to 16 a pairing of "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins" and an adaptation of "It's a Wonderful Life," which will be presented as a live 1940s radio play.

"Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins" is an adaptation of Eric Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyman's children's book in which Hershel needs to free a town from goblins who have forbidden the people from celebrating Hanukkah.

Soria said the "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins" and "It's a Wonderful Life" performances are best geared for adults and children who are at least 9.

"I'm really thrilled that we're doing something holiday-related. .... My hope is that audiences will really embrace that. Being that it's a first for us, we don't know - people do get busy in December, and I hope that they will come out to GreenMan Theatre for one or both weekends and enjoy some holiday entertainment," Soria said.


Learn more

To learn more about the Elmhurst History Museum's exhibit, visit To learn more about GreenMan Theatre Troupe's holiday showcase, visit

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