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‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’ Full of Holiday Cheer

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Cast & Crew at Flowertown Players Offer Up a Heartwarming Seasonal Favorite

By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer

A beloved American holiday classic finds new birth on the stage at the historic James F. Dean Theatre, as Flowertown Players send up a heartwarming rendition of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’. Based on the 1946 Frank Capra film starring James Stewart ‘It’s a Wonderful Life, tells the tale of smalltown dreamer George Bailey, and his attempt to end his life on Christmas Eve.

With live sound effects and an ensemble cast, all your favorite characters from the beloved film come to life as George with the help from Clarence, an amiable guardian angel trying to earn his wings, set out to see what life would be like if George had never been born. Under the direction of Larry Spinner the Flowertown Players knock this one out of the park, or in seasonal terms, they really light up the Christmas tree and bring much needed holiday cheer to audience members.

Much like ‘Holiday Inn’, ‘White Christmas’, and ‘Miracle On the 34th Street’, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a golden era Hollywood classic. Based on a book by Joe Landry (2006) the live radio play has become a treasured theatre production since first presented for the stage in 2008, and is timely during the Christmas season.

Long before television was the preferred medium, families gathered in the living room to listen to weekly productions of murder, mystery, and soap operas coming over the radio. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’ captures that same feeling. Eight principal actors at Flowertown rotate back and forth, taking turns at three old fashioned mike stands, as together they embellish the saga of George Bailey.

While several actors take on major and minor speaking roles, Zach Rettig fully immerses himself in the role of Jack Laurents the voice of George throughout his lifes journey. Rettig delivers all the enthusiasm and angst we’ve come to expect from George. Playing beautifully off Rettig is Indea Bennett as Sally Applewhite who brings love-smitten Mary to life. The duo share a lot of warmth and passion together on stage.

Flowertown and Air Force veteran Jamie Young is a man of many talents, serving as Freddy Filmore the able-bodied announcer at WBFR, as well as Clarence’s heavenly overseer. Clearly Young has a voice for radio, and a presence for the stage. Chuck Miller fills the shoes nicely as Harry ‘Jazzbo’ Miller, whether he’s articulating the befuddled Clarence, or George’s war hero brother Harry.

Michael Locklair (Trevor Ward) brings the same amount of dual conviction to disoriented Uncle Billy and happy go lucky Mr. Martini. Rune Vaughan (Lana Sherwood), Anicia Daniels Brown (Hazel Jenkins), and Andrew Williams (Phillip Arnold) round out an all-star cast as Violet, George’s mother, and Mr. Potter respectively, as well as George’s kids and Nick the taxi driver.

Kudos go out to Jason Olson for transforming the small stage at James F. Dean Theatre into a 1940’s era radio studio, with equal praise to Patti Kelly for appropriately dressing the cast in period attire. Proper stage design and wardrobe set the tone, and further enhance this already inspirational production.

Beautiful, touching, and heartwarming are the best words to describe ‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’ at Flowertown. An outstanding ensemble cast that will easily put you in the holiday spirit for make you forget all that’s happening outside the theatre for over two hours.

‘Each man’s life touches so many other lives’, and the lives of the actors at Flowertown Players touch so many. Thank God for community theatre. Catch a live performance of this seasonal play before it ends its run December 11th, and you’ll discover there’s a few new verses to ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ written specifically to sell hair creme and windshield soap. For tickets and info visit https://www.flowertownplayers.org/

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