I have a holiday confession to make…I’m not a fan of the holiday movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.” However, I adore the Cygnet Theatre production of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY. So it feels like a lovely holiday gift that Cygnet has brought their last production of this play, filmed in 2011 a live theatre, directly into your home for your enjoyment through December 27th.
The show is set within a radio station airing a live performance of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” For those who may not know this holiday classic is the story of George Bailey, a man distraught over an impending failure that will devastate not only his life but those in the town he lives in. Deciding he can’t go on any longer, he is thwarted by Clarence his guardian angel. George thinks everyone’s lives would have been better without him and Clarence shows him how much their lives would lack without him.
The subject matter can trend toward earnest and sentimental, so the radio play aspect and the direction from Sean Murray keep the show energetic and bright. The radio actors read from scripts behind microphones, applause signs light up to cue the audience, and even has a dedicated foley artist who creates sound effects for the radio audience.
The “actors” all have their own backstory’s that the audience has glimpses of when they are interacting away from the microphones. Strategically placed commercial breaks for funny products showcase the cast’s musical talents and allows for some zany counterpoints to all the earnest sentimentality of the story.
Tom Andrew makes for a touching Geroge Bailey and one who has taken the Jimmy Stewart role and added his own mark to it. The rest of the cast is equally terrific as they switch back and forth between multiple roles with aplomb.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY is a fun holiday production, with the bonus gift of hearing the audience enjoy the performance and feel like you’re a part of a theatre audience once again.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY by Cygnet Theatre is available for streaming through December 27th. To purchase tickets you can go to www.cygnettheatre.com or call 619-337-1525.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY
Adapted by Joe Landry
Directed by Sean Murray
Musical Director: Billy Thompson
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