STONEHAM — The trick to any stage version of the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” is to present the world of Bedford Falls and its citizens in a way that respects audiences’ memories of the 1946 film.
At the Stoneham Theatre, director Caitlin Lowans and adapter Weylin Symes understand that. Symes’s script hews closely to the screenplay, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatists Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett with the movie’s director, Frank Capra. In fact, the bulk of Symes’s work is judicious editing; the play clocks in about 20 minutes shorter than the film. The only major change he and Lowans make is turning nasty old Mr. Potter into Mrs. Potter, and while that seems like an odd choice, Bobbie Steinbach is such an impressive chameleon that it isn’t too distracting. Stoneham’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” is accomplished, but never inspired.