Who knew? Who knew that a wonderful piece of Americana, “It’s A Wonderful Life” is not only a movie that most all of us love around the time of Christmas. It’s truly a way of showing, celebrating a great time. This different “Wonderful Life” at The Gamm is a winner all the way.

You see, there is a play, with music, written by Joe Landry, that puts almost all of the story onto the stage in a quick, strongly adapted work for the theater.

This “Wonderful Life” does cut things back, using just eight performers, several playing two, or more, parts. Music has bean slipped in, and the result is a fast trip with a cast truly perfect, and for goodness sake, set in Warwick.

"What?" you say, “Warwick? Rhode Island? Can that be?" Yes, and it’s a terrific idea as the audience laughs at having the names of certain local banks and other things being right in the middle of their home town.

All of this, of course, needs an excellent cast, headed by the Gamm’s Tony Estrella who plays the always driving ahead George Bailey, a man in the middle of many problems, from bank losses to having children. In the end he wins, as we’d all like to do, all the time.

Others in the cast equal his work. Madeleine Lambert, who plays the lovely young person who’s trying hard to do well and, finally, gets that. Trinity Rep’s Fred Sullivan Jr. is an all-about guy who goes back and forth, being a nasty man keeping money, to a very fast, very sharp guy who gets in the good land, finally.

Jeff Church is wonderful going from all kinds of looks while still making you care for him. The rest of the cast excels playing on Michael McGarty’s lovely set that keeps everybody able to do their sparkling best. And D J Potters' sound effects make it seems like it’s all real happening.

It is true enough that the play was a little slow in the first 10 minutes or so. But after that, the power and brightness comes along, and all is there which is, of course, deserved by an American classic.

"It's A Wonderful Life" continues at the Gamm Theatre through December 22. Bill Gale reviews theatre and dance for The Public's Radio.