By Bob Uphues
BEDS Plus, the LaGrange-based agency dedicated to helping the homeless and those in danger of losing housing, invites you to Bedford Falls on Friday, Dec. 6 when the agency and the LaGrange Lions Club transform a Brookfield tavern into Nick's and Martini's from the beloved holiday film favorite "It's a Wonderful Life."
The event, which serves as a fundraiser for BEDS Plus, will be held from 8 to 11 p.m. at Joe's Saloon, 9220 47th St. Tickets are limited and are going fast, according to Erin Molek, the agency's community engagement coordinator.
Tickets are $50 through Nov. 30 (limit four) and $65 after that date. They will also be sold at the door – if any remain – for $75 each. Molek said on Nov. 21 that BEDS Plus had already sold about 100 of the 150 or so available.
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Molek said she approached the LaGrange Lions Club, which has donated to BEDS Plus generously and has organized fundraisers like wine tastings in the past, after experiencing an "It's a Wonderful Life" pop-up at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn last year.
A self-professed fanatic of the classic film, which follows the ups and downs of George Bailey and his family's penny-ante building and loan company, Molek said while she watched it last year, she had something of an epiphany.
"Seeing it in that environment, it dawned on me that this is what we do at BEDS," Molek said. "We do what the Bailey Brothers do, we help put a roof over people's heads."
For one night, Joe's Saloon, a classic roadhouse tavern that still sports its art deco interior, will be turned into both Martini's – the humble neighborhood bar owned by a soft spoken Italian immigrant -- and Nick's, the rowdy barrelhouse joint of George Bailey's nightmare journey of non-existence where they "don't need any characters around to give the joint any atmosphere."
Nick's will be housed in the main bar area of Joe's Saloon, with Martini's recreated in the party room to the west. The film will be screened in both places and attendees are encouraged to dress the part and join in a la "Rocky Horror Picture Show."
"We want you to feel like you're at Nick's and Martini's," Molek said.
The tables at 'Martini's' will sport red-checked tablecloths while 'Nick's' will be serving Angel First Class Clarence Oddbody's favorite drink – rum punch. Drinks will be rung up on a vintage cash register, whose bell will signify a host of angels earning their wings as the evening progresses.
Molek said 10 percent of the bar proceeds will be donated to BEDS Plus as part of the fundraiser.
In addition, a sign will welcome you to Bedford Falls and a Ford Model A will be out front – where George Bailey abandoned it. Meanwhile, a handful of actors from the Theatre of Western Springs will interact with guests and reenact scenes.
BEDS Plus will hold raffles during the event, including two round trip tickets to visit Seneca Falls, New York, which lays claim to being the inspiration for movie's setting.
At the end of the night, said Molek, they'll pass around a wicker basket to collect a final donation and sing a round of "Auld Lang Syne."