Audience members will be transported to the 1940s when they step into Town & Gown Theatre’s arena to see “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.” Fans of the classic holiday movie will enjoy both the familiar story of George Bailey’s quest to realize his true worth and the unique method by which director Paul Weber brings it to life.
“This show is really two stories in one,” Weber said. “We’re telling George Bailey’s story, of course, but it’s being presented by WBFR, a radio station in Manhattan, New York.” Weber explained further that “the studio boasts a full troupe of voice actors, musical talent, and crew members who present the live broadcast, set in 1946. Patrons will feel like they’re in the studio audience taking part in the show. They’re encouraged to ‘laugh, cry, swoon, or cheer’ as the story progresses.”
The voice actor cast ensemble is led by veteran Town & Gown actors Shane O’Mealey and Maddy Billings, who portray Hollywood stars Jake Laurents and Sally Applewhite. In turn, Laurents and Applewhite take on the lead characters of George and Mary Bailey in WBFR’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Rounding out the WBFR cast are Town & Gown regulars Kevin Gerfen, Bunny Stanphill, Keith Sheets, and Tim Prchal, who portray Freddie Fillmore, Lana Sherwood, Harry “Jazzbo” Heywood, and Ray Gordon, respectively. These WBFR cast members collectively voice more than 30 “It’s a Wonderful Life” characters, including Clarence the angel, Violet Bick, Henry Potter, and Uncle Billy. Janice James portrays WBFR’s stage manager, Hazel Jenkins.
No Christmas show would be complete without holiday music, and WBFR provides both traditional holiday songs and fun 1940s-era music from pianist Trixie Devine (played by Dawn Behrens) and the studio vocal trio The Mistletones (as voiced by Pamela Fortney, Betsy Flood, and Andrea Yough). Miss Devine and The Mistletones also contribute additional voice acting for the show, filling smaller roles such as Mrs. Hatch and the Baileys’ children.
Weber further noted this show is not merely a staged reading of the script. “Our patrons will really have fun interacting with the radio station’s actors, whose wardrobes complete the 1940s look,” Weber said. “I also think they’ll be amazed by the sounds used in this show. We’ve made a huge effort to recreate the ways in which these sound effects would have been made in a studio in the ‘40s.” Cindy Sheets, in the role of the Foley sound effects artist Hope Merriweather, uses a wide variety of objects to create those sound effects, including bells, whistles, footsteps, doors opening and closing, and even a specially constructed wind machine.
“It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” will run for eight performances, from Nov. 29th to Dec. 2nd and Dec. 6th to 9th. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets will go on sale Monday, Nov. 26th and can be obtained by calling the box office at (405) 372-9122 or visiting the theatre’s Web site at www.townandgown.org. Tickets prices are $14 for adults, $12 for students, and $12 for seniors attending either Sunday matinee.