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Victoria News Article Dec. 2002 "Wonderful One Man"


Wonderful one man
By Ingrid Paulsen
It was Jason Grossmans complete obsession and love of the film Its a Wonderful Life that led him into the world he lives today, having all the characters from the original movie in his head like a holograph Bedford Falls.
Grossman has been doing his one man rendition of the beloved Frank Capra film for three years now.
Even before I was studying the film to do the piece I had seen it probably 50 times. Every Christmas I would watch it three to seven times. I drove my father crazy. He introduced me to the film, but was soon thinking, what have I done, explains Grossman from his home in New York city.
Grossman says he still tears up watching the film. Something about the transformation of George Bailey from the depths of despair to a place of great hope is fuel for this actor.
He realizes what he does have in his life and just doesnt care about where the money will come from anymore.
Grossman was already performing his one man theatre rendition of the show when he had a chance to go through an extensive collection of artifacts from the movie.
I got a chance to meet the woman who played Zuzu. It was so incredibly cool. We met and had lunch and she took us on a tour of her little museum for the show, says Grossman.
He first contacted Karolyn Grimes, who played the lovely little girl Zuzu, a central character of inspiration in the film, through her Web site. He found he was immediately in virtual conversation with Grimes. And he got a warm welcome when he told her of his project and upcoming gig in Seattle, near her home.
I didnt think I was emailing her, but she responded, Oh, come by and have lunch and a tour. She is so open and friendly and generous beyond anything expected from a typical human response.
If Grimes wasnt Grossmans hero before meeting her face-to-face that quickly changed. Grimes gave Grossman, his producer and her husband all gifts after theyd seen all sorts of memorabilia from the film. And the warm hostess did all this while in a wheelchair with a recently broken ankle. We saw lobby carts from the movies, original signed scripts, dolls from over the years, mini Bedford Falls sets, lunch boxes you think they had a lot of stuff for Star Wars...
For Grossman the meeting was one of the coolest moment in his life. In part because he found Grimes emulates the spirit of the film to this day.
But despite his personal interaction with Zuzu, Grossman tries not to favour characters when they appear in his play. He listened to tapes over and over for the first two year of his production to capture the voices and attitudes of characters realistically. He says the biggest challenge in doing the parts is the necessary fluidity.
You dont really have a break for 70 minutes. Some characters are more challenging for me the women. He says the key is keeping focused and making sure he is reacting and being organic with the other characters. So if a conversation is going on he must hear what the other (imaginary) character is saying, giving them time to speak, before continuing his monologue.
Grossman was worried he would have a time on stage when the lines just wouldnt come, but he says, thankfully, that nightmare hasnt come to fruition. Instead the heights of nervousness came when the original Zuzu was in the front row watching his show.
(Grimes) had some pretty important people with her that have written books about the film, he says about that final Seattle show last season. When I saw her laughing and responding I could re-focus myself on the show and not be as self conscious.
Grimes gave Grossman a fabulous review on her Web site endorsing the show, much to Grossmans great relief and delight.
Jason Grossman and the Its a Wonderful (One Man Show) Life is coming to Victoria for one show only, Tuesday Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. at the Langham Court Theatre, 805 Langham Court. Tickets are $14/$10. for information call 383-2663.

Copyright 2002 Victoria News