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It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
a Play
by Joe Landry

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 4393

SHOWING : November 30, 2012 - December 16, 2012



This beloved American holiday film classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of a five member ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds right before our very eyes (and ears) as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.

Director Justin Anderson
Cast Erin Burnett
Cast Mark Gray
Cast Tony Larkin
Cast Marcie Millard
Cast Jacob York
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


It's a Fun-to-Fill Life
by playgoer
Monday, December 17, 2012
"It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" is Stage Door Players' contribution to Atlanta's holiday theatrical season. Like many of this year's contributions, it depends on the audience bringing expectations and previous experiences to the show. In this case, I'm not sure that the show would make a lot of sense to someone totally unfamiliar with the movie. The actors all do a fine job in switching from character to character, but a detailed knowledge of the movie makes their vocal impressions more effective.

In only a couple of cases do the actors try to mimic voices from the movie directly. They create their own characters that serve the script, or actually both scripts (the radio station interplay and the radio play itself). Mark Gray is Freddie Filmore, host of the radio show, and his facial sneer as Mr. Potter effectively cues the audience into his changing radio personalities. Jacob York is Harry "Jazzbo" Heywood, who lets his Hollywood charm work on Sally Applewhite (played by Erin Burnett), as they voice their parts in the show. Tony Larkin's Jake Laurents is as firm and forthright as the George Bailey he plays, and Marcie Millard, as Lana Sherwood, lets her crackerjack comic timing fill every possible moment of her stage time.

This is a top-flight cast, and they all do wonderful work. Director Justin Anderson has them move from microphone to microphone more actively than would be the case in a real 1946 radio station, but the movement prevents the radio play from becoming static. And who wants static on the radio?

The set, by Chuck Welcome, is an art deco delight that thoroughly suggests a pre-war radio station still on the air in 1946. Jim Alford's costumes and George Deavours wigs also set the period, with Ms. Burnett's black-and-print dress and hatted updo being particularly attractive. It's a lovely production to look at, as is the norm at Stage Door Players.

Radio commercials are part of the show, and they have been targeted to feature real-life business supporters of Stage Door Players (although the radio station is purportedly in New York City). That, and Mr. Gray's pre-show patter, do a fine job of keeping the show true to period and contemporary at the same time. In fact, the only blatantly non-period moment I noticed was just as act two was to start, when period-costumed stage manager Hayley Brotherton tried to gather the cast back together with a "hey, guys." "Hey, kids" might have worked in 1946, but "guys" is too modern. In any case, I wish Ms. Brotherton had been given a curtain call bow. Her work in setting the scene as a 1946 radio station was just as important as the actors'.

Stage Door Players needs to be commended for presenting attractive productions that are firmly within the comfort zone of its season ticket holders without blatantly repeating the same holiday show from season to season. The holidays are blanketed in tradition, it's true, but Stage Door Players has bucked the tradition of forcing the same holiday gruel down the throats of its patrons every year. Not all its year-end shows have been as successfully entertaining as "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play," but it's fun to see something a little bit new (and a little bit old) at this time of year. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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