Syracuse’s beloved Redhouse Arts Center once again let their creativity shine through

By: Dec. 13, 2020
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The company of Redhouse Arts Center's production of
It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.
L-R Stephfond Brunson, Brendan Didio, Marguerite Mitchell,
Robert Denzel Edwards and Binaifer Dabu.
Photo courtesy of the production.

Syracuse's beloved Redhouse Arts Center once again let their creativity shine through as they found a way to still bring a production of the classic Holiday story, It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play to virtual viewers. Redhouse is unfortunately located in an area under "Orange Zone" restrictions in the city of Syracuse, therefore they were unable to use their own space. Luckily, the caring Central New York theater community was there for them and the Catherine Cummings Theater at Cazenovia College allowed them to use their stage to present a production that they had been working on. All involved followed guidelines put in place due to COVID-19. The result was a joyous and heartwarming production of Joe Landry's adaption of Frank Capra's Oscar nominated classic film as directed by Redhouse Artistic Director, Hunter Foster.

The story of course centers on George Bailey and his realization that his life and existence is important to his family and the community he lives in. Clarence, his guardian angel, gives him a glimpse of what life would be like in Bedford Falls, NY if George Bailey never existed. This play is not the movie, but rather a "radio play" where a group of performers are performing the play in a local radio station in Syracuse, NY, on Christmas Eve in 1946.

The Redhouse production features many familiar faces of Syracuse's favorite local actors. The stellar cast features Robert Denzel Edwards as radio performer "Jake Laurents" who takes on the role of George Bailey. Edwards charms in the role with his vibrant expressions and heartwarming stage presence. His line delivery captures the emotion, heart, and awakening of the beloved character George Bailey.

A Redhouse favorite, Marguerite Mitchell portrays radio performer "Sally Applewhite" who portrays Mary, George Bailey's wife, in the play. Mitchell once again proves that she can light up the stage with her powerful performance. Mitchell portrays the loyal, caring, and loving wife to George Bailey beautifully. Her wide-eyed expressions, confidence, and powerful line delivery make her a true standout as she gives her all in the performance.

Stephfond Brunson takes on the role of radio performer "Freddie Filmore." He takes on the task of portraying numerous characters in the play. His ability to switch from character to character showcases his stellar acting skills.

It came to no surprise that local actress Binaifer Dabu could easily take on a role that requires numerous different voices and characters. Dabu portrays radio performer "Lana Sherwood" and the character actress charms as always in her animated performances. Dabu once again literally throws herself into each character.

Brendan Didio takes on the role of radio performer "Harry Heywood" the character that is in charge the majority of the time, creating the acoustic sound effects of the radio play. On top of dealing with over 30 different props on the "Foley table," he takes on the voice of Clarence and numerous people in the town of Bedford Falls. His voicework is top notch and he without a doubt stole the show with his impressive and lively performance.

The professionally recorded production also features a top-notch creative team. Lighting designer Shane Patterson creates a heartwarming and cozy mood. Video Production and Sound designer Anthony Vadala enhances the production and story as the play turns into a black and white recording when Clarence shows George what life would be like if he never existed. There were no sound issues, which makes the streaming production enjoyable to watch.

This streaming production of It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play is exactly the story that is needed now. Unfortunately, 2020 has brought about feelings for some where they don't feel of much worth when truly everyone matters, everyone has a purpose. The classic story opens your eyes to all you do have that is good in your life like family, friends, faith, and community. This may not be a live production, but the recorded streaming production does what theater is supposed to do which is provide an escape, make you think, bring a smile to your face, and appreciate the beauty of love and life and every unique person. My suggestion, cuddle up on your coach with your loved ones and enjoy this charming production of the eye-opening Holiday classic presented by the Redhouse.

Running time: Approximately one hour and thirty minutes.

It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play presented by the Redhouse Arts Center and produced in partnership with Catherine Cummings Theater at Cazenovia College is available to purchase for streaming through December 20, 2020. For tickets to the production and all things Redhouse click here or call the box office weekdays at 1-315-362-2785.