Historical society readies for holiday production of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

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The Port William Historical Society is an organization in motion.  Our new meeting schedule, rotating between a historic game or craft, a speaker or demonstrator, and a business meeting, helps keep the meetings fresh and different.  So far this year we have had Larry Jones and his arrowhead collection, made cornhusk dolls, learned how to make whimmydiddles and played whist. 

Our next meeting will be held on Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. at the library.  One of our members, Phyllis McLaughlin, will be talking to the Society about the tools and resources available for genealogy research. This meeting is open to the public, and we encourage everyone interested to attend.     

In addition to our new meeting format, the Events and Programs Committee has been actively engaged in the creation of new programs and events. The committee is made up of Deborah Garrett, Anna Martin, Phyllis McLaughlin, Tina Hoffman, Mary Louden and myself.  Following the success of “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” this past spring, we are currently working to expand the Society’s Heritage Day Festival coming up next month and working on our greatest feat of daring to date, the stage production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”       

Though the curtains have been drawn on major community productions in Carrollton for many years, Port William Productions is about to change that fact. What was once a dynamic facet of local popular culture has faded into the backdrop as the vivacious and dramatic caretakers’ lights have dimmed. Their legacy, however, will be honored with the upcoming production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  It will be, in a word — history!

One of the most memorable characters in previous local productions was a thin, well-dressed man, whose short stature made him no less engaging — Sam Simpson. He brought the stage to light and history to life for many. It is only fitting that a man so devoted to the theater for so many years have a theater named in his honor. It is fitting still that such a theater plant the seed that brings the dramatic luster back to the setting of this small hamlet with this production.

The production is set for 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, at the middle school in the Sam Simpson Auditorium.  

We are actively seeking participants in this historic event. No matter your talents. No matter your expertise. 

Auditions are 6-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Sept. 20-21, at the Family Worship Center. Come be a part of this classic film brought to life, and remember there are no small parts, only small actors (and we will need several of those). 

We also are seeking sponsors for the event, whether the gift of labors or the gift of gold. Your tribute will be etched forever in the annals of local lore (and also on the programs). So bring one, bring all and come audition for your 15 seconds of fame. Maybe you will even get noticed by a Hollywood producer in the audience and become a world-famous actor. (We cannot guarantee this, but you never know.)

If you have any questions, please see Deborah Garrett at The News-Democrat or call Benjamin Collett at (502) 525-4085.


Ben Collett is the president of the Port William Historical Society and resides in Carrollton.