The movie savant in Murray gets the better of him on occasion. Working in shoutouts to Ellen Corby (the grandmother from TV’s “The Waltons”) or Carl Switzer (Alfalfa from the “Our Gang” serials), both of whom had bit parts in the Capra film, is innocuous enough; plugging Aunt Clara from “Bewitched” or a swimming-pool scene in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” not so much.
Based on the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Aurora’s “This Wonderful Life” features Jeremy Aggers. CONTRIBUTED BY CASEY GARDNER
Other quibbles involving director Justin Anderson's design team, based on a recent weekend performance: a couple of faulty lighting cues (designed by Mike Morin), such as when the prerecorded voice of one angel implores Clarence to "look at (George's) face," while the character's standing in total darkness; and designer Cody Russell's props, which curiously include Zuzu's famous pedals, but not her actual flower itself.
Which brings us to the amazing Atlanta actor Jeremy Aggers, the singular reason for seeing this version of “Wonderful Life” to begin with. Avid local theatergoers shouldn’t be remotely surprised by his sheer versatility in portraying each and every role in the play — that is, not if they were fortunate to have witnessed his vibrant titular turn in “The Buddy Holly Story,” or his lovelorn loner in “Singles in Agriculture,” or his brooding Bible-thumper in “Edward Foote.”
What some people may not know is that Aggers has a whole other career as a narrator of audiobooks. He’s clearly no stranger to vocalizing all sorts of different characters within the same story, although some of his impressions here (Stewart’s George and Lionel Barrymore’s villainous Mr. Potter) are more spot-on than others (Henry Travers’ Clarence or Thomas Mitchell’s scatterbrained Uncle Billy, to say nothing of Gloria Grahame’s vampy Violet Bick).
Still, in scenes that require him to play two or more people at once, Aggers relies on body language to further inhabit and differentiate between them. In one confrontation, his George sits upright while his Potter slouches, as they rapidly argue back and forth. Earlier on, as George courts his future wife, Mary, he trades quips with his legs apart, she with hers together.
WATCH: 1946 Movie Trailer for “It’s a Wonderful Life”
And when Aggers eventually describes the couple’s dance at the gym, it’s likely you’ll be too transfixed by him to really miss that iconic swimming pool anyway.
“This Wonderful Life”
Through Dec. 23. 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays (alternating performances with "A Christmas Carol"). $20-$30. Aurora Theatre, 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. 678-226-6222, auroratheatre.com.
Bottom line: A fine showcase for the wonderful Jeremy Aggers.