IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY is Now Playing at Alabama Shakespeare Festival

Performances run through December 31.

By: Dec. 18, 2022

Alabama Shakespeare Festival will present It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry, Dec. 2 - 31 on the Octagon Stage.

This twist on a Christmas classic transports guests to the 1940s - not long after the movie takes place - where they're immersed in a Rockefeller Center-inspired radio broadcast studio. There, the live studio audience will watch the transformative storytelling of five characters as they bring the story of It's a Wonderful Life to fruition, complete with Foley sound effects, singing advertisements and flashing "applause" signs.

The story remains the heartfelt tale that has moved audiences for decades. Deeply saddened on the night of Christmas Eve, George Bailey ponders taking his own life before the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence. Clarence shows George what the world would look like if he had never been born, teaching George that despite what dreams may have passed him by, there is significance in every life.

The ensemble cast includes William DeMeritt (The Skin of Our Teeth, Twelfth Night, The Death of the Last Black Man) as Jake Laurents; Evan Andrew Horwitz (Anne Frank Live at the Plaza, Evil on Paramount) as Harry Heywood; and Jimmy Kieffer (Peter and the Starcatcher, A Christmas Carol) as Freddie Filmore. Madeleine Lambert (The Agitators, Alabama Story) returns to ASF as Sally Applewhite and Cassandra Lopez (Twelfth Night, Hairspray, Oklahoma!) portrays Lana Sherwood.

Making their ASF directorial debut is Kate Bergstrom (Letters That You Will Not Get, Is Edward Snowden Single?, The 39 Steps). Bergstrom says that at the heart of this story is community.

"This is a great, American story about what it means to take care of one another," said Bergstrom. "The value of being able to give each other strength is worth more than all the money in the universe."

The story is influenced by the emotionally heavy topics of suicide and depression, which can be especially difficult to navigate during the holidays. Bergstrom said she hopes the story will inspire others to find inner-strength in times of difficulty.

"We're all a part of something greater than ourselves," said Bergstrom. "I hope this piece encourages us all to become the guardian angel in our own lives."

Bergstrom says the radio play holds integrity to the original film script and the short story on which it's based, "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern.

"Older generations that cherish the movie will be able to watch this show with younger generations of their family and enjoy it together," said Bergstrom.

Sound designer Michael Costagliola enhances the immersive experience with bells, whistles, and the use of Foley sound effects. Just like the radio dramas of the time, audiences will watch as the actors onstage create a symphony of sounds with the use of objects - from hammers and glass to glockenspiels and wind machines.

Building this 1940's world are scenic designer An-lin Dauber, costume designer Val Winkleman, lighting designer Thomas Rodman, stage manager Emilee Buchheit and production assistant Brooke Morgan.

Ticket prices start at $25. To purchase, call 334.271.5353, visit the ASF Box Office (Monday - Saturday, doors open at 12:00 p.m.), or purchase online at Evening performances begin at 7:00 p.m.; matinees begin at 2:00 p.m.

ABOUT Alabama Shakespeare Festival

Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the State's theater, builds community by engaging, entertaining, and inspiring people with transformative theatrical performances and compelling educational and community programs. From its founding in a high school auditorium in Anniston in 1972 to its designation as the State Theater of Alabama in 1977 to the stunning $21.5 million performing arts complex in Montgomery (built in 1985), ASF has been a leader in the performing arts throughout the state, region, and country. As a beloved Alabama arts institution, ASF broadens the cultural identity of the South by producing classics, Shakespeare, contemporary plays, musicals, theatre for young audiences, and exciting new works. Since its inception, ASF has provided education programs to more than one million students; annually, SchoolFest, a student-matinee program, presents high-quality theatrical experiences to nearly 35,000 students.


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