TN Shakespeare Company to Present IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY, 11/20-12/8
Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South's professional classical theatre, returns last year's holiday hit It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play with a new look both on stage and in the audience to Dixon Gallery & Garden's Winegardner Auditorium from November 20 - December 8 in Memphis.
Adapted by Joe Landry from the famous Frank Capra holiday film featuring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey and Donna Reed as Mary Hatch, It's a Wonderful Life comes to stage-life in this 1946 radio play employing the dialogue and characters from the film and played by a company of five actors.
Re-directed by TSC's Stephanie Shine (Southern Yuletide; Romeo and Juliet), the production is made possible by title sponsor FedEx Corporation.
The Dixon Gallery auditorium is transformed into a 1946 remote radio station bandstand, complete with period holiday decorations, commercial jingles, and hand-made sound effects. The live broadcast features the company of radio actors both on and off the air, but the central focus is on the live broadcast of this "new" radio play.
The production will feature a very different, fun scenic design, and the audience will sit on full risers (as they did during TSC's spring show of Hamlet) for perfect sight-lines and comfortable seating.
In the play that the actors read on-air, George Bailey has spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. He has always longed to travel but never did so in order to prevent rich skinflint Mr. Potter from taking over the entire town. All that has prevented him is George's modest loan company, The Bailey Building & Loan, which was founded by his generous father.
But on Christmas Eve, George's Uncle Billy loses the business's $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank. When the bank examiner discovers the shortage, George Realizes that he will be held responsible, sent to jail, and the company will collapse -- finally allowing Potter to take over the town. Thinking that his wife, their young children, and others he loves will be better off with him dead, George contemplates suicide.
The prayers of Bedford Falls that night result in a gentle angel named Clarence coming to Earth to help George. He shows George what Bedford Falls would be like if indeed he had never been born. What he sees is a Potter-controlled town sunken into depravation with all those George loves dead, ruined, or miserable. He realizes that he really has led a wonderful life - and the entire town honors and saves George that night in more ways than one.
"In the spirit of tradition, we welcome back several members from last year's cast," says Shine. "And much like a family gathered for a holiday that delights in recalling past memories and creating new ones, this family of actors will delve deeper into known roles while embracing all of the 1940s-era songs to delight audiences in the pre-broadcast entertainment."
In partnership with TSC, Memphis' public radio station WKNO-FM 91.1 will broadcast TSC's Thursday, November 21 performance live to all its listeners. Listen for the show at 7:00 pm (C.S.T.) that night.
Each member of the company of actors plays a radio personality who, in turn, plays multiple characters in It's a Wonderful Life. The returning Memphis cast includes Brad Kroeker as announcer Freddie Filmore, Mr. Potter, Mr. Gower, Ernie the taxi driver, and Martini; Jim Eikner as Harry "Jazzbo" Heywood, Clarence Oddbody, Uncle Billy, Harry Bailey, and Bert the cop; and Lorraine Cotten as Hope Merriwether, Zuzu, Violet, Rose Bailey, Mrs. Hatch, and Sadie Vance.
Bruce Bui, of Ballet Memphis, provides the period costume design in his fifth season with the company, and Jeremy Allen Fisher designs the lighting with Kristen Greene designing scenic and properties elements.
General Admission tickets are on sale now, Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm at TSC's office located at 2260 West Street in Germantown or by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org.