Most of us have seen the classic Frank Capra Christmas film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, and even those of us who haven’t know the basic storyline – a suicidal George Bailey discovers the value of his life, guided by a would-be angel named Clarence who is on a quest to earn his wings – so what’s exciting about revisiting that same, old story on stage?
Well, first of all, it’s being presented by the renowned Berkshire theater group Shakespeare & Company, who routinely present some of the best theater productions in the area. Secondly, this is not “It’s A Wonderful Life” but, rather, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.”
What’s the difference?
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” is a play within a play – the premise being that this version is being performed for a radio audience on Christmas Eve – only the sound effects person is snowed-in, leaving the entire production and all its sound-effects up to the five voice actors!
As an audience member, you’re treated to an acting tour de force as these five hapless souls run through the story of the idealistic George Bailey, creating dozens of characters with just their voices, as well as being forced to create the play’s aural environment on the spot with a variety of props.
One of the interesting things about this play is how it came into existence: originally adapted from the film for the stage, it required a huge cast of characters, which is fine if you have a large pool of players but many smaller community and school groups don’t – nor do they have the budget to mount so large a production. The addition of the radio show angle takes care of that problem quite nicely, while also creating a second layer of fiction to the story – Genius!
This show proved so popular during its first run that Shakespeare & Company brought back this season – don’t miss it!
It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
December 5th – 28th, 2014
Shakespeare & Company
70 Kemble Street in Lenox, Massachusetts
for a full schedule, tickets, and more information: www.shakespeare.org
Christmas in the Berkshires Lodging
There are lots of great, holiday-themed productions, presented by world-class, Berkshire stage companies this time of year – A Christmas Carol, Nutcracker Suite, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, and more. However you choose to spend your Berkshires Christmas vacation, a stay at Applegate Inn bed & breakfast is the bow on top. With eleven, beautifully appointed suites, complete with private baths, fireplaces, and spa tubs, Applegate Inn is your ticket to comfort.