Live Theatre, Concerts & Events

It’s a Wonderful Life

The classic story comes to life in a 1940’s radio station

This beloved classic 1946 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of a small ensemble, a few dozen characters are brought to the stage, and the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.

George is a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, who shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be had he never been born.

It’s A Wonderful Life, “On the air” at the Studio Theatre!

Before there was television, that glowing orb that left so little to our imaginations, there was radio. Radio was all we needed; it was complete entertainment, making the listener the director, choreographer and set designer, and leading our imaginations to places no moving pictures could ever go. Radio created the most powerful kind of theatre there is: theatre of the mind.

Premiering on December 4th, Perth’s Studio Theatre presents a Christmas show that relives the golden days of radio through the power of one of the most beloved yuletide stories of all, It’s a Wonderful Life. Yes, it’s the story you love, but this time performed as a radio play. Perth audiences have never seen — or heard — anything like it, and it’s sure to spark your imagination and ignite your Christmas spirit.

What does a “radio play” look like, you ask? Imagine this: the stage of the Studio Theatre becomes a 1940s radio studio, complete with vintage microphones, a sound effects person (who primes your imagination with creaking doors, barking dogs, and footsteps in the snow) a live organist and, of course, voice actors who step up to their respective microphones on cue to deliver their character parts. Suddenly, you are the audience watching a live radio drama take shape, laughing, sighing, cheering and applauding just as radio audiences did in a bygone age. It’s the magic of Frank Capra’s classic version of It’s A Wonderful Life, along with the fun of experiencing how a radio drama was created 70 years ago.

In short, it’s pure magic.

Tony Palermo is the playwright who brings this beloved American holiday classic to life as a “live” 1940s radio broadcast. And our own Norma Cummings is the director who has brought this special production to the stage of the Studio Theatre, just in time for Christmas.

Norma has assembled a formidable cast of seasoned actors (11 in total, performing 36 different characters, plus a bird!) to voice the story of idealistic George Bailey as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas eve. The main characters include Hugh McCulloch as George Bailey, Joanna McAuley Treffers as his wife Mary, Barry Caiger as the Superintendant of Angels, and Lucas Tennant as Clarence, Angel Second Class, who so badly wants to earn his wings. Other on-stage voice characters include Alfred Von Mirbach, Alison Kirkpatrick, David Parry, Grey Masson, Krista Duff, Robert Del Grande, and Jeremy Dutton as the Announcer. In addition to the voice actors on stage, there will be a live sound effects artist (Jane Stott), a live musician setting the musical tone (Jack Hurd) and an on-stage stage manager (Roberta Peets). And since every radio show must have its sponsors, there will even be commercial jingles, written especially for this show by long-time broadcast commercial writer Paul Joyce, and performed live by Jack Hurd and local favourites The Thorny Issues as the Andrews Sisters-type jingle singers. This is community theatre at its absolute best — a wonderful story, an inspired concept, and a brilliant team of passionate players. You simply won’t want to miss it.

It’s A Wonderful Life! premieres at the Studio Theatre, 63 Gore Street E. in Perth, on Thursday December 4th, with performances Dec. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, & 13 at 8:00 pm and Dec. 7 & 14 at 2:00 pm. Regular tickets are $22 at The Book Nook, 60 Gore St. E. (cash only); Tickets Please, 39 Foster St. (613) 485-6434, (credit cards accepted, a convenience fee applies); and Shadowfax, 67 Foster St. (613) 267-6817, (credit cards accepted, a convenience fee applies). Tickets are $24 at the door, and students with ID pay just $10 at the door on show nights.

Mark your calendar, and don’t miss the Studio Theatre’s production of It’s A Wonderful Life! It will surely be a treat for your eyes, your ears, and your heart this Christmas.