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Hartford Stage Announces Holiday Production Of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY

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It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play runs Friday, November 26, through Sunday, December 26.

Hartford Stage rings in the holiday season with a new production of the perennial holiday film classic, It's a Wonderful Life. In this stage adaptation, Connecticut playwright Joe Landry has refashioned the 1946 Jimmy Stewart movie into a play reminiscent of the Golden Age of Radio. The staging, complete with a Foley sound effects artists and period commercials, will be co-directed by Hartford Stage Artistic Director Melia Bensussen and Hartford Stage Artistic Producer Rachel Alderman. It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play runs November 26 through December 26 at Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street in downtown Hartford.

Based on the short story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, and Jo Swerling, It's a Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey, a young man who dreams of one day leaving his hometown of Bedford Falls to adventure around the world. When circumstances keep George from pursuing his fortunes elsewhere, he finds himself increasingly frustrated with small town life and his responsibilities. On Christmas Eve, through the intervention of an affable angel who is angling to get his wings, George is given the rare opportunity to see how the world would be a very different place had he never been born.

It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play transports its audience to a festive recreation of a 1940s radio broadcast. The story of the Bailey Family, the greedy Mr. Potter and the residents of Bedford Falls merrily comes to life with a versatile cast of radio players, a live sound effects artist, period music, and, of course, charming throwback commercials. The cast of the production includes Shirine Babb, Jennifer Bareilles, Michael Preston, Gerardo Rodriguez, and Evan Zes. Leer Leary will perform the Foley sound effects.

Co-Director Melia Bensussen states, "The themes behind this story have always spoken to me: that we never know how our individual actions impact the world around us, and that we need a community when we are in trouble. This was felt particularly by Hartford Stage during our dark months of the pandemic, and we hope you will come to celebrate with us our return and enjoy the lights of our stage during this holiday season." Co-Director Rachel Alderman adds, "While we aren't able to perform our traditional production of A Christmas Carol this year due to the health and safety concerns of the very vast cast and crew (a total of 73 people backstage), we are thrilled to be continuing to celebrate the themes of community, support, and joy that resonate in both A Christmas Carol and It's A Wonderful Life.

The design team for It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play includes Stephanie Osin Cohen (scenic designer), An-lin Dauber (costume designer), Evan C. Anderson (lighting designer), Frederick Kennedy (sound designer), J. Jared Janas (wig and hair designer). Casting is by Alaine Aldaffer. Zoë Golub-Sass acts as production dramaturg; Kelly Hary as production stage manager; and Chandalae Nyswonger as assistant stage manager.

It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play runs Friday, November 26, through Sunday, December 26. Tuesday through Sunday evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday Matinees begin at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $30. For show times and tickets, visit HartfordStage.org/its-a-wonderful-life or contact the Hartford Stage Box Office at 860-527-5151.


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