According to John Levine, of Smyrna, all heavenly beings don't speak with American accents.
This Friday when Levine hits the Everett Theatre stage as guardian angel Clarence Odbody in God's Power and Light Company's musical of Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life" — he'll speak with a drawl that's familiar in the United Kingdom.
"I'll be using a London cockney accent," Levine, 72, explained. "I don't think it's ever been done for Clarence, unless [the show has] been done in England."
Though it's no stretch for Levin, a native Londoner, to introduce a British rendition of Odbody — Levine first sought guidance from the production's director, Cheryl Shields, as to whether he should Americanize the character.
"I asked her what accent she wanted; do you want English?" Levine asked. "She said, 'But Clarence is an angel — he can come from anywhere.' So I said, 'Fine.'"
Levine will split his time playing Odbody with teenage actor Shane Cronin, in which Levin will grace the stage during Friday and Sunday performances.
Cronin, 15, of Townsend, says the eternal nature of Odbody attracted him to the character.
"I like that Clarence is kind of ageless. He can be older or younger," explained Cronin, a sophomore at the Charter School of Wilmington.
Wishes he were never born
It's Christmas Eve and the warm-hearted George Bailey (Christopher Long) is singing the blues — the chilly, lowdown, you-owe-$8,000-to-the-bank-or-you'll-go-to-jail blues. Depressed, Bailey considers ending his life. And he wishes he were never born. However, Odbody comes to Bailey's rescue, and shows him how great a loss it'd be to the town if he never existed.
'"It's A Wonderful Life' is one of those wonderful stories," said Shields, 60, of Townsend, the founder of God's Power and Light Company. "The show makes people realize, 'Wait a minute, I do have something to offer. And I can be a blessing to somebody else.'"
Dream role come true
Landing the lead role in "It's A Wonderful Life" has been priceless to Long, as he's a gigantic fan of the film and James Stewart, the legendary actor who starred as Bailey in the movie.
"I'm playing a character I've been idolizing my entire life and paying homage to an actor I've idolized my whole life," beamed Long, 26, of Middletown. "It's really cool because Christmas time is my favorite time of the year, by far. I'm such a nerd about Christmas."
As a Senior Airman in the United States Air Force, Sunday's finale will mark Long's last show on American soil, for perhaps some time, as he'll be stationed to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany this January.
Page 2 of 2 - When asked if Long feels starring as Bailey is akin to receiving an early Christmas gift, he cheerfully responded with: "Yeah, that's for sure. I just hope that I can really appease the patrons and really meet their expectations."
IF YOU GO
WHAT 'It's A Wonderful Life' the musical
WHEN 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18
WHERE Everett Theatre, 47 W. Main St., Middletown
COST $6 kids 12 and under; $8 students ages 13-17; $10 adults advance; $12 adults door