Live Radio Theatre kicks off ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Week

“Merry Christmas, George Bailey!” the 1947 radio adaptation of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” complete with ads for Lux soap, sponsors of the original broadcast, will be staged by Seneca Community Players as the final production for their 2015 season.Performed as a radio play, along with the entertaining ads for Lux delivered by Hollywood reporter Libby Collins, and Hollywood actress Susan Blanchard, the play is based on the original Lux Radio Theatre version of 1947 and will be offered as part of the It’s A Wonderful Life Festival in Seneca Falls Dec. 10, 12, & 13 2015.The cast appears in 1940’s costumes, and the acting is done around old-fashioned microphones. When they aren’t performing, the cast of 16 actors, 4 sound effects artists and 1 pianist sit off to the side, following along with the script, waiting for opportunities to add to the story. With the exception of Eric Jansen, who takes Jimmy Stewart’s role as George Bailey, each of the actors plays from two to as many as five characters. The cast also provides the sounds of crowd scenes both chaotic and joyful, and Robert McDowell who along with James Rowley, Juan Espana and Mildred Phillips-Espana masterly handle the sound effects, delivers a terrific impression of an angry dog. The script boils the movie down to it’s essentials: Clarence played by Pete Saracino, a child-like angel who hasn’t managed to earn his wings, is sent to Earth to try to prevent George Bailey from killing himself when after a particularly bad day decides that he’s worth more dead than alive. Clarence using information shown to him by Joseph played by Stephen Beals, concerning the important events of George’s life, tries to convince George that he has had a wonderful life, after all. Audience participation is encouraged and guided by signs calling for applause and a brief warm-up by stage manager, Nicholas J. Goodman. The show moves along at a brisk pace, and runs slightly over an hour.As a special treat for those attending the It’s A Wonderful Life Festival on Saturday & Sunday Dec. 12 & 13, additional SCP actors will be performing vignettes from the play on the street. The Lux Radio Theatre 1947 radio play actors included, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Victor Moore. The original story written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1943, was called The Greatest Gift, and was sold to Frank Capra’s Production Company where it was adapted into the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Additional characters in the SCP production include: Mary Hatch played by Mariah Fegley, Mr Potter played by Stuart Sewell, Uncle Billy played by Carl Webster. Additional performers are – Kaylee Millard as Violet Bic, Lorne Fancett as Mr. Gower, Judy Gallagher as Mrs. Bailey, Eileen Webster as Mrs. Hatch, Kathy Kirkland as Susan Blanchard, Judith Ann Anderson as Libby Collins, and Zachery Hilton and Madison Tyler play the children Peter & Zuzu. Performances of “Merry Christmas, George Bailey!” are being held at the “Bedford Falls Bijou Theater”, 115 Fall St., lower level, Seneca Falls, NY, which is located in the Partridge Building. Show dates and times are December 10th at 7pm, December 12th at 6pm and December 13th at 1pm. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to the show with refreshments offered before the show only, as there will be no intermission. Tickets may be purchased in advance at WomanMade Products, 91 Fall St., Seneca Falls or by phone 315-568-9364

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