WARWICK, RI – For the third year in a row, Gamm Theatre is bringing audiences back to Bedford Falls in “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” with many of the same cast and crew returning for the production.
Tony Estrella, who also directed, is good-natured George Bailey, who faces mounting financial problems with his Building and Loan business.
The 1946 motion picture “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart has become a beloved holiday favorite. What makes this version of the story special is the ability of the actors to recreate the world of Bedford Falls in the WGAM radio studio, designed by Michael McGarty.
Fred Sullivan (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) returns as George’s nemesis Henry Potter, a selfish and arrogant man who cares little about the problems of working class men and women. Money is all that matters to him.
When George’s problems become too much to bear, he contemplates suicide and has a fateful meeting with the angel Clarence, who shows him what life would be like had he never been born.
Sullivan exhibits a menacing bark as Potter and a gently humorous tone as Clarence, who is seeking his wings. Clarence is 293 years old and has been George’s unseen guardian for many years.
Milly Massey serves as the show announcer as well as George’s young daughter Zuzu, while Will Malloy makes an invaluable contribution as the ‘foley artist’, providing a variety of sounds including broken glass and bell chimes.
Lynsey Ford is sweet and likable as Mary, George’s fiancée and later, his wife. Jim O’Brien (“Hangmen”) as George’s Uncle Billy, Andrew Iacovelli as Harry Bailey, and Helena Tafuri (“Assassins”) as Violet round out the ensemble.
There are some clever touches, including an amusing commercial for a local credit union. Jessie Darrell Jarbadan’s 1940s era costumes and Noah Beauregard’s lighting are first-rate.
The actors warm up the audience with sing-alongs of holiday favorites including “Jingle Bells” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
There were also readings of special messages from audience members. “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” celebrates wisdom, compassion, and shares a valuable message. No matter how tough life can be, friends will always help us through it.
It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play runs through December 24. The Gamm Theatre, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, RI. For tickets: call 401-723-4266 or gammtheatre.org.
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