It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play

American Theater Company (ATC) continues its 2008-09 season with the sixth annual production of It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play adapted from Frank Capra’s classic film and directed by Damon Kiely. The production will run December 4 -December 28, 2008, at American Theater Company, 1909 W Byron St, Chicago, IL.  Press opening is Monday, December 8, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.

The Chicago holiday tradition is back! The classic story based on the Frank Capra masterpiece is lovingly performed as a period radio play complete with commercial breaks and live Foley sound effects. ATC's celebrated Ensemble brings the town of Bedford Falls to life, with free milk and cookies after every performance.

“Helping to create this production was one of the first things I ever did as Artistic Director and undoubtedly my greatest success”, says Damon Kiely. “It’s a Wonderful Life is a universally relevant story about the redemptive power of hope, made even timelier now with its story about a man who’s lost his way because of his economic hardship. I'm thrilled to return to this piece, which I believe is one of the best stories about the American Dream ever written.”

It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play  features a cast of nine playing 40 roles, including Stef Tovar (George Bailey), John Möhrlein (Mr.Potter and Clarence), Sean Okerberg (Foley Operator), James Lusk (Announcer), Sadieh Rifai (Violet, Zuzu), Casey Campbell (Harry Bailey and others), and John Sterchi (St. Peter, Uncle Billy and Nick).

The designers are Tom Burch (Set Designer), Michelle Julazadeh (Costumes), and Katy Peterson (Lighting Designer). Joseph Heaton is Stage Manager.

Damon Kiely (Director) served as the Artistic Director of American Theater Company from 2002 to 2007. Directing credits at American Theater Company include Oklahoma! (Nominated for 6 Jeff Awards including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical), The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Orpheus Descending, Kid-Simple, A View from the Bridge, Strictly Dishonorable, and The Hairy Ape. He directed TimeLine Theatre's season opener, Weekend by Gore Vidal. He is an Assistant Professor of Directing and Acting at The Theatre School at DePaul University where he has directed There's a Boy in the Girls Bathroom, Hurrah for the Next Who Dies and A Streetcar Named Desire.  Kiely has also produced, directed and taught in New York City. His directing credits include work for Public Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, the Ontological Theater, Adobe Theater Company, PS122, Ensemble Studio Theater and New Dramatists. Damon also served as the Artistic Director for Real Time Theater and was a Producing Director at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater as well as the Associate Artistic Director for the Children's Theater of Maine. He is a winner of the 2000-02 NEA/TCG Career Directing Program, the 2000 Drama League Fall Directing Program and the 1997 Princess Grace Award. 


Casey Campbell (Harry Bailey and others) was last seen at ATC in the Jeff nominated production of Oklahoma! as Will Parker (Jeff Award Nomination-Best Supporting Actor in a Musical). Other Chicago credits include work with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Remy Bumppo, Victory Gardens, Chicago Dramatists, White Horse Theatre Company, Theatre on the Lake and The Chicago Improv Kitchen. Casey is currently co-writing the film Sauced, a comedy about Barbeque competitions, which will be produced by Radio London Films.


Sadieh Rifai (Violet Bick and others) returns to ATC where she made her ATC debut with Speech and Debate in spring 2008. She recently worked as an understudy on August: Osage County at Steppenwolf and portrayed Noorani in The Merchant on Venice for Silk Road Theatre. She is also a proud graduate of the School at Steppenwolf.


James Lusk (Announcer) is a recent graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University with an MFA in Acting. Chicago credits include Provision Theatre's staged reading of Captain Marbles and His Acting Squad (Dir. Tim Gregory) and the critically acclaimed Hypocrites production of Our Town: Remounted, directed by David Cromer and Rachel Walshe.  Previous projects include the title role of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, The School for Scandal, Life's A Dream, The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?, Machinal (Dir. Rachel Walshe), The Lady From DuBuque, Stop Kiss, Godspell, Footloose, No Exit, Othello, Agamemnon, Courtship/Valentine's Day (Dir. David Cromer) and many others.  James holds BAs from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Music Theatre and Christian Ministry and is a recognized Actor/Combatant by the Society of American Fight Directors. 


John Sterchi (St. Peter, Uncle Billy and others) he received a Jeff Nomination for Best Actor), Teach in American Buffalo (appearing opposite Chicago favorite Mike Nussbaum), Jake in A Lie of the Mind, Hanrahan in Below the Belt (After Dark Award Winner – Best Ensemble Acting), Mike in Working, and he also portrayed famed photographer Art Shay in his one-man show, Where Have You Gone, Jimmy Stewart Other ATC credits include It's a Wonderful Life, The Threepenny Opera, Orpheus Descending and the musical Tintypes Mr. Sterchi is no stranger to Chicago audiences, having appeared in Hearts / Northlight, David Copperfield / Steppenwolf, Pal Joey / Goodman, as well as, work at Lifeline, Body Politic, Profiles and Strawdog, among others. He has also worked regionally at Kansas City Rep., Madison Rep., The Kennedy Center and Red Barn Summer Theatre. Notable roles include: Morgan / The Drawer Boy, Moss / Gengarry Glen Ross and Juror #8 (the Henry Fonda role) in Twelve Angry Men, which he also adapted and produced.  Film and TV credits include: The ABC Mini-Series Amerika, Indie films: Bound & Gagged, Till Death Do Us Part and most recently, Detective Moran in Streetthief, a new docu-drama shown at The International Chicago Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. But his most notable film appearance was "the pie eating cop in the diner", who gets gunned down by Jude Law, in The Road to Perdition, with Tom Hanks and directed by Academy Award winner, Sam Mendes In addition to his many stage and screen credits, Mr. Sterchi has acted in numerous commercials and industrials, and as a voice-over artist has narrated over 300 children's books, training films and commercials.  Also, a Director, his credits include Visiting Mr. Green, Catch a Falling Star and Kreskin Be Damned, an ATC Big Shoulders production. 


Stef Tovar (George Bailey) has been an ATC ensemble member since 1996, having served as the interim Artistic Director prior to PJ Papparelli's arrival.  His ATC stage credits include A Stonecarver, The Threepenny Opera, Below the Belt, Half of Plenty and I Do! I Do!.  Stef founded The Route 66 Theatre Company in fall of 2008, whose mission is to produce works in both LA and Chicago (  Their debut production, On an Average Day, was a "Critic's Choice" in the Chicago Tribune and Jeff Recommended.  Stef was also recently seen as Knute Rockne in Knute Rockne:  All American at Theatre at the Center and is a previous Jeff Award recipient. 


John Möhrlein (Mr. Potter, Clarence, and others) is an Ensemble member of American Theater Company, where his credits include: Half of Plenty, A View from the Bridge, Strictly Dishonorable, the world premiere of American Dead, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Hairy Ape, Endgame, American Buffalo, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Threepenny Opera, The Million Bells of Ocean, and One Day Only.  He directed Catch 22, and was Jeff nominated and received an After Dark Award for his portrayal of Augustino in A Stone Carver.  Other credits include The Cripple of Inishmaan, Wildmen, Black Snow, Good Person of Szechuan, Red Noses, Hunting Cockroaches,

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Highest Standard of Living, Front Page, Swamp Foxes, Government Inspector, Bal, and The Dick Gibson Show.  Principal roles in feature films and series are: Stranger Than Fiction, Devil’s Dominos, Chicago Cab, Hero, Cold Justice, Early Edition, Crime of Innocence, Division Street, and Crime Story


Sean Okerberg (Foley Artist) is in his third year of performing It’s a Wonderful Life with ATC.  Sean moved to Chicago from Austin, Texas, where he was a core company member with the Austin Commedia Society.  Sean is recently completed his MFA at the Chicago College of Performing Arts; he received his BFA from Southwestern University.  Sean has most recently been seen on stage at the Abbie Hoffman Festival.  Other roles include Glen in the Red Tape Theatre Company’s production My Richard, and at the CCPA in Love of the Nightingale, The Laramie Project, Judgment at Nuremberg, and as Lopakin in The Cherry Orchard.  In Austin Sean won Best Of Week for his one-man show Please Choose from the List Provided at FronteraFest 2001.


It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play will be performed at American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St. in Chicago.  Previews are Thursday, December 4, 2008 through Saturday, December 6 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 7 at 3 p.m.  Press opening is Monday, December 8, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.  Regular performances run Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m.  There is no performance on December 25.


Parking is available on the street and at the metered lot on the corner of Lincoln and Berenice.  ATC is wheelchair accessible.  Tickets are pay-what-you-can at the door during previews.  Throughout the regular run, tickets are $35 -$40. Student and group discounts are available.  ATC's box office is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on performance Saturdays and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on performance Sundays.  For reservations or further information, call 773-409-4125 or visit .

American Theater Company

American Theater Company is an ensemble of artists committed to producing new and classic American stories that ask the question, "What does it mean to be an American?" We provide a truly intimate home for the community to experience meaningful stories.  We foster a nurturing environment for artists to take risks and create essential work. 


American Theater Company is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and CityArts Program II. Additional valuable support is provided by the Alphawood Foundation, the Bruce B. Boyd Foundation, the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation and the Polk Bros. Foundation.



Title:                 It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play

Playwright:        Adapted from the film by Frank Capra

Directed by:       Damon Kiely

Featuring:          Casey Campbell (Harry and others), Stef Tovar (George Bailey), James Lusk (Announcer), John Mohrlein (Potter and others), Sean Okerberg (Foley Artist), Sadieh Rifai (Violet) and John Sterchi (St. Peter/Billy/Nick).


Dates:               Previews:         December 4 - December 6, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. &

            December 7, 2008 at 3:00 p.m.

                                    Press opening:Monday, December 8, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.

                        Regular run:    December 11 – December 28, 2008 (except Dec. 25)


Schedule:          Thursdays & Fridays: 8:00pm     

Saturdays: 3:00pm & 8:00pm                

Sundays: 3:00pm                     


            Location:           American Theater Company, 1909 W Byron St., Chicago

Tickets:             Previews: pay-what-you-can at the door

Regular run:$35- $40


Box Office:        The Box Office is located at 1909 W Byron St., Chicago;



Subscriptions and Memberships to the 2008/09 Season are currently on sale.  Single tickets for It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play are on sale now.

Brief Synopsis: The perfect choice for the family at holiday time, ATC’s It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play is the classic story lovingly performed as a period radio play complete with commercial breaks and live Foley sound effects. ATC's celebrated Ensemble brings the town of Bedford Falls to life with free milk and cookies after every performance.


·         The 2008-2009 season marks ATC’s sixth annual production of It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play. ATC Ensemble Member Stef Tovar will be performing the iconic role of George Bailey and former ATC Artistic Director Damon Kiely will direct. 


·         It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play, featuring nine Chicago actors performing 40 parts, transports audiences to a 1940’s radio studio where the classic Capra film is performed as a period radio play including commercial breaks and live Foley sound effects.


·         The classic 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life was produced and directed by Frank Capra and based on the short story, “The Greatest Gift” written by Philip Van Doren Stern.  Despite disappointing box office returns, It’s a Wonderful Life went on to become a classic holiday film and a staple of Christmas TV around the world.



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