“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” Is a Great Holiday Experience

See It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

By Mario Muscar

I had the opportunity to check out Towngate Theatre’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” in one of their final rehearsals.

As I sat in the theater before the show began, I reflected on how I’ve never been a huge fan of the original Frank Capra film. It’s not that I don’t find anything wrong with it. I understand that it resonates with a lot of people and really speaks to that Christmas spirit feeling. However, it never really did anything for me. I was curious how I would react to seeing it in a different format, performed by actors on the stage in the style of a radio play.

As the show started, I was amused initially by how the production really gave me a feeling that I was watching the broadcast of a radio play from the mid-20th century. The performers put on those old timey radio voices, and I was impressed to see the actors perform a variety of characters with unique characterizations and voices.

Also impressive was the Foley artists. For those that don’t know, Foley is the reproduction of sound effects using items to duplicate the sounds of things like doors closing, people walking, thunder, and more. It really is an art unto itself, and it was a pleasure to watch a full group of Foley artists interweaving the sounds into the performance.

I also took the opportunity during the performance to just close my eyes and pretend that I was sitting around a radio in front of a roaring fire. This really brought home the feeling of the play and I recommend to anyone seeing the production that you do the same.

As a surprise to me, the show was littered with “commercial breaks,” which had me chuckling in my seat. The cast seemed to love these as much as I did and their enjoyment of the bits came through in their performance, funny voices and jingles in these commercials.

A Great Holiday Experience

I also spoke with Tim Thompson, OI director of performing arts, who said that the audience can expect a full evening of holiday cheer.

“The lobby is decorated for Christmas,” Tim said. “We will have 1940s Christmas music playing. We will have complimentary punch and cookies and coffee to enjoy—or a glass of wine or beer for the adults to purchase if so inclined. We promise our audience a real feel-good, fun and relaxing evening as we all gather together for the holidays!”

I recommend to all of you to go and see this production and take a journey back to the mid-20th century with a charming show to get you in the mood for the holidays.

Get Tickets for “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”

You have two more chances to see this show. Evening performances of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” take place at 7 p.m. December  8 & 9.

Purchase tickets for this show or any Towngate show in advance at www.oionline.com or call 304-242-7700.  You can also purchase tickets at the door, if available.