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My Two Cents

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play!

By Charles Jarrett

Radio shows provided us with a wonderful past and fond memories of evenings perched in front of the old Philco or Zenith Radios, listening to great radio shows of the 40’s and 50’s. Those memories may certainly be rekindled in the current live radio play at the Lafayette Town Hall Theater. Radio shows like Dragnet, Dr. Kildare, Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders and The Shadow brought the magic of live theater into our living rooms. As a very young man, I was fascinated by the remarkably “real” characters and exciting sound effects emerging into the sanctity of our homes.

It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey, a young man who dreams of one day leaving his hometown of Bedford Falls to wrap the architectural world around his creative finger. But when dire family circumstances keep George from going off to college and pursuing his homebuilding fortunes elsewhere, he finds himself increasingly frustrated with small town life and his increasing responsibilities. On Christmas Eve, through the intervention of a charismatic angel by the name of Clarence, who is angling to get an angelic upgrade (wings), George is given the rare opportunity to see how prophetically different the world would be, had he never been born.

This story began when author Philip Van Doren Stern found himself frustrated when he couldn’t get a short story published and ended up sending it as a 21 page Christmas Card to his friends. When producer David Hempstead came across it, he bought the movie rights and eventually director Frank Capra honed it into the wonderful inspirational movie we know and love today.

Another author, Joe Landry has cleverly re-created this timeless story, that was literally made famous by Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore in the 1946 Frank Capra directed Liberty Film release. It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, is exactly what it says it is, a movie re-crafted as a radio show. Through the masterful selection of five delightfully talented actors supported by a live foley artist (sound effects person), who master the many voices of the principal movie cast characters and bring this heartwarming, wonderful town and its principal character, George Bailey, stunningly back to life.

My wife and I have seen this play before and it is always built on the talent of skilled actors with unique vocal talents who can realistically play a multitude of different characters believably. The movie had 52 different characters who are brought to life (for the most part) by only 5 very talented actors. Director Daniel J. Eslick, chose a woman, Sarah Negron, to bring us the many faceted emotions of lead character George Bailey. I applaud this selection as it was an excellent choice. The other four actors: John Blyt, Chris Rodriguez, Amy Stringer, and Alicia Rydman, are equally excellent actors with versatile voices that bring these many characters back from the past. The sound engineer, Acacia Smith, provided sound effects on que and on point to make this a most enjoyable event!

The Town Hall Theater is located at 3535 School Street in downtown Lafayette and the production continues evenings at 8PM on December 4,9,10,11, 16,17, and 18. Matinees will occur at 2 PM on December 11,12,18, and 19. Pricing ranges between $18 and $35, with group of 10 or more at $25. Tickets and available seating can be acquired by connecting with https://www.townhalltheatre.com/  You may also call the Theater at (925) 283-1557 for more information.

The Town Hall theater is prioritizing the health and safety of their artists, staff and audiences. Their Covid policy can be found at https://www.townhalltheatre.com/covid19 and requires mask wearing and appropriate evidence of covid vaccination. YOU MUST CHECK OUT THIS LINK SO THAT YOU WILL BE FULLY INFORMED AND ABLE TO THOROUGLY ENJOY THIS PRODUCTION!