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Interview: John A.C. Kennedy of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY at Wharton Black Box Theater

Director John A.C. Kennedy of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY

Interview: John A.C. Kennedy of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY at Wharton Black Box Theater

Wharton Black Box Theater in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey's largest non-profit community performing arts education organization, continues its 2022-23 season with a family-friendly production of It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. It's the story of a group of radio personalities who gather on Christmas Eve 1946 to perform all the roles for a coast-to-coast broadcast of "It's a Wonderful Life!" This production gives the audience the terrific, uplifting message of the classic American Christmas story, along with a few surprises, thanks to the relationships between the quirky radio celebrities.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Director John A.C. Kennedy.

Please tell us about yourself and your involvement in theater.

I was involved in theater in NY and LA in my early days, then returned to it just about 10 years ago. Since then, I've enjoyed directing for several different companies in the area, like the Chester Theater Group, Alliance Repertory, Chatham Players, Trilogy Repertory and InterAct. I prefer to split my time between acting and directing - I often find I learn new things about acting when I direct, and new things about directing when I act. I was fortunate to receive an NJACT Best Actor nomination a few years ago for my performance in "Seminar", in Chester, and last December performed the role of Scrooge there in a staged reading of "Ebenezer: A Shadow Carol", which I adapted with my collaborator, Lauri MacMillan. Oh, so playwriting, too, I guess.

What inspired you to direct this piece?

The first time I read this script, which includes a great deal of dialogue directly from the film, it sort of just made me wish I was watching the movie. But the second time through, I began to see the fun we might have playing with the relationships between the radio performers who are putting on this broadcast. Who might feel competitive with whom? Who might have a grudge? Who might surprise and shine beyond expectations? Then I started thinking about which actors I knew who could do this - and then I got really excited.

On top of that, I've been in thrall of the magic of the Christmas stories for as long as I can remember, and I love to be involved in the telling of one. And the older I get, the more I appreciate this one - it's Christmas Magic for responsible grownups.

What do you want your audiences to take away from this show?

I would love it if folks walked out of the theater with a renewed appreciation of the magic that can be created by community and support. And to remember that no man is a failure who has friends.

Are there any upcoming projects you will be working on after this?

Yes! I'm directing a very different fun and magical show, Peter & The Starcatcher, at Studio Players in Montclair, in March. (In fact, auditions are next week... check the Studio website!).

Anything additional you would like to add?

Just best wishes to everyone, for A Wonderful Holiday Season...

How can people buy tickets to this show?

http://ow.ly/eJxe50LRoLi

The cast features Peter Despres, Jason Kruk, Lauri MacMillan, Jessica Phelan, Chip Prestera and Aaron Kellner, with amazing design and tech support from Joe DeVico, Joseph Forys and Alex Post.

Photo credit: Wharton Black Box Theater



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Wharton Black Box Theater in Berkeley Heights continues its 2022-23 season with a family-friendly production of 'It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.' I had the pleasure of interviewing the show's director, John A.C. Kennedy.