BWW Reviews: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY
Walking into the theatre, there are 1940's recordings of Christmas songs playing overhead, the set (the same from the last show with a few minor adjustments) is painted in holiday colors and decorations to help set the mood. They had a Foley table (for the artist who creates sound effects live) set upstage and center and three microphones spaced out across the stage. There were two light boxes labeled 'applause' centered to the audience on either side of center row.
For those of that era, they helped to set the mood by having actors walk across the stage randomly starting around 5 minutes before the show began. The "Stage Manager" who was the stage manager did the 5 minutes call where we could all see. It gave the sense of urgency that they started in 5 minutes and no one was there. From the things I have read and seen of "radio days" this seems to be pretty accurate.
They set the stage for how this show would be proceeding with the stage manager giving the speech instead of the director and this performance requires audience participation to be successful. The announcer came to the stage and introduced the actors. Once the story of George Bailey looking for adventure in his life started, I was thankful that they stuck with their own voices and did not try to sound like the actors from the movie. They were true to the radio show with the casting as well. To put it lightly, the actress who played Mary was not 18 but it did not matter because she still had a young voice, and in radio it was voice, not looks or age that determined if you were successful. All of the actors were wonderfully matched to their characters and to being radio voices. I would have been just as happy to listen to the performance as I was to watch it.
I must applaud the author, Joe Laundry and the director, Larry Dennis for the Foley in the show. I love when a performance has Foley involved since it is a nod to the origins of sound design. Jim Steele was excellent in how he portrayed a Foley artist, just the right level of disinterest vs doing his job right attitude.
I really enjoyed the afternoon I spent at Boise Little Theater with the cast and crew of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A RADIO PLAY. It was delightful to listen to the actors tell the story we all grew up with for many years. Sometimes the audience doesn't need the "applause" light to clap.