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“Couple, church put classic movie to music proving ‘It's a Wonderful Life' - Daily Oklahoman”

“Couple, church put classic movie to music proving ‘It's a Wonderful Life' - Daily Oklahoman”

Couple, church put classic movie to music proving ‘It's a Wonderful Life' - Daily Oklahoman

Posted: 10 Dec 2010 09:55 PM PST

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BY CARLA HINTON Oklahoman Comment on this articleLeave a comment

Published: December 11, 2010

"Help me Clarence, please! Please! I wanna live again. I wanna live again. Please, God, let me live again."

George Bailey, "It's a Wonderful Life"

Bruce Greer speaks with Sue Long, who portrays the character "Ms. Potter" in "It's a Wonderful Life -- The Musical" at First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, 1201 N Robinson. Photo by David McDaniel, The Oklahoman.


More Info

"It's a Wonderful Life — The Musical"

• When: 7 p.m. today and Sunday.

• Where: First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, 1201 N Robinson.

• Cost: $10 per person; Tickets available at the door.

• Information: 232-4255 or


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"It's a Wonderful Life" is Dove Award-winning composer Bruce Greer's favorite.

So it was with great joy that Greer teamed with his friend Keith Ferguson to set the classic holiday film to music in the late 1990s and saw their collaborative production draw crowds in Dallas and other cities.

Now, Greer and his wife, Kim, have brought the musical to First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, where they are co-ministers of music.

Performances of "It's a Wonderful Life — The Musical," featuring First Baptist members, began Friday and continue today and Sunday at the church, 1201 N Robinson.

The Greers said bringing the musical to the church stage seemed natural.

"You know why? George's story is everybody's story," Kim Greer said.

"Something happens in your life. It didn't turn out the way you wanted. You're disappointed. At some point, you cry out to God."

Bruce Greer agreed.

"God has to show you the way, because you can't do it on your own. This story conveys the hope that you find in Christ."

Message of hope

The Greers have been leaders of the music ministry at First Baptist in Oklahoma City for about three years.

The couple, both 49, said they moved here from Dallas, where Kim Greer worked on staff at a Dallas-area church and Bruce Greer continued his career as a composer, pianist and Christian recording artist.

Bruce Greer, a Longview, Texas, native and Baylor University graduate, formerly worked as a creative director for Word Records and Music. The Gospel Music Association awarded him a "Musical of the Year" Dove Award in 1999 for "Mary Did You Know?"

Bruce Greer said Ferguson took the screenplay for "It's a Wonderful Life" and adapted it, while Greer set it to music.

"I've seen that movie a thousand times, and every time I see it, I weep because God speaks to me through it," he said.

He said the scene in which main character George Bailey stands on a bridge contemplating suicide is particularly poignant. In the Frank Capra move, Bailey is aided by an angel named Clarence who shows him what life would be like if he had never existed. By movie's end, Bailey comes to appreciate his life, no matter the twists and turns of fate.

"I think God helps him understand how precious life is," Bruce Greer said. "To me, it's a Gospel message."

Kim Greer said cast members often grow teary-eyed during some scenes because of the message of hope that is conveyed. She said the church hopes to inspire attendees with that message this holiday season.

"It's a powerful story," she said.

Bruce Greer noted that the story begins with prayer. "The whole town is praying for George Bailey because they're concerned for him."

Kim Greer said the musical, like the holiday film, isn't preachy, yet it's premise about the preciousness of life won't be lost on believers or those who don't know Christ.

"It's an open door," Bruce Greer said. "We're hoping it will be a positive experience for everyone."

Setting the stage

The Greers said their posts at the Oklahoma City church mark the first time they have gotten to work together, and they are loving it. When the church responded favorably to their idea to produce "It's a Wonderful Life — The Musical," the Greers were thrilled.

Kim Greer said about 85 percent of the First Baptist congregation is involved in the project in some way.

Bruce Greer said set building began in October and took about a month. Volunteers were putting the final touches on the set and stage, which includes a steel frame bridge, earlier this week.

Sue Long, 82, a longtime church member, portrays the character Ms. Potter, a female version of the villain of "It's a Wonderful Life."

"I'm a women's libber at a time when they've never heard of it," she said, laughing.

Long said it's been about 20 years since she's been on the stage, and she's enjoying her return in the church setting. She said the musical is timely for the Christmas season because it shows that good triumphs over evil.

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