Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), the Mid-South's professional classical theatre, presents the joyous stage version of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play inside Dixon Gallery & Garden's Winegardner Auditorium, opening tonight, December 7, and running through December 16 in Memphis, directed by TSC's Stephanie Shine (Southern Yuletide; Romeo and Juliet). BroadwayWorld has a first look at the production in the photos below!
Adapted by Joe Landry from the famous Frank Capra
holiday film featuring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey
and Donna Reed as Mary Hatch, It's a Wonderful Life comes to stage-life in this 1946 radio play employing all the dialogue and characters from the film and played by a company of seven actors.
The Dixon Gallery auditorium is transformed into a 1946 remote radio station bandstand, complete with period holiday decorations, commercial jingles, and hand-made sound effects. The live broadcast features the company of radio actors both on and off the air, but the central focus is on the live broadcast of this "new" radio play.
In the play that the actors read, George Bailey
has spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. He has always longed to travel but never did so in order to prevent rich skinflint Mr. Potter from taking over the entire town. All that has prevented him is George's modest loan company, The Bailey Building & Loan, which was founded by his generous father.
But on Christmas Eve, George's Uncle Billy loses the business's $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank. When the bank examiner discovers the shortage, George Rea
lizes that he will be held responsible, sent to jail, and the company will collapse -- finally allowing Potter to take over the town. Thinking that his wife, their young children, and others he loves will be better off with him dead, George contemplates suicide.
The prayers of Bedford Falls that night result in a gentle angel named Clarence coming to earth to help George. He shows George what Bedford Falls would be like if indeed he had never been born. What he sees is a Potter-controlled town sunken into depravation with all those George loves dead, ruined, or miserable. He realizes that he really has led a wonderful life – and the entire town honors and saves George that night in more ways than one.
Each member of the company of actors plays a radio personality who, in turn, plays multiple characters in It's a Wonderful Life. Brad Kroeker plays announcer Freddie Filmore, who also reads Mr. Potter, Mr. Gower, Ernie the taxi driver, and Martini. Jim Eikner plays Harry "Jazzbo" Heywood, who also reads Clarence Oddbody, Uncle Billy, and Bert the cop. Trevor Pittinger (Jake Laurents) reads George Bailey
, and Amelia Hammond (Sally Applewhite) reads Mary Hatch. Lorraine Cotten (Hope Merriwether) reads Zuzu, Matilda, Ruth, Mrs. Hatch, and Sadie Vance. Kim Justis Eikner (Lana Sherwood) reads Violet, Rose Bailey, MrS. Thompson
, and Janie. Jerry Kimble, Jr. (Dayton Parker) reads Joseph, Harry Bailey
, Sam Wainwright, and Nick the barkeep.
Bruce Bui, of Ballet Memphis, provides the period costume design in his fourth season with the company, and Memphian Matt Strampe is the scenic and lighting designer.
General Admission tickets are on sale now, Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC's office located at 2260 West Street in Germantown or by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org
. Tickets for all performances are $25 in advance and $30 day-of-show. Tickets for the December 6 Preview performance/WKNO Live Broadcast are only $15 regardless of when purchased. December 13 is a Free Will Kids' Night: Children 17 years and younger are admitted FREE when accompanied by a paying/attending guardian. All performances begin at 7:00 pm except for Sunday shows, which begin at 3:00 pm.
Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a professional 501(c)(3) theatre and education organization which performs the plays of William Shakespeare
indoors and outdoors seasonally; performs classical and Southern writers seasonally; and provides year-round educational and training programming. Now in its fifth season, Tennessee Shakespeare Company seeks to sustain a Mid-South classical theatre that both nurtures artists and encourages audiences to exaltation, curiosity, and wonderment; be a center for the community dedicated to re-discovering faith in life by increasing awareness of reality and expanding imagination through an emphasis on the performance, education, and training of William Shakespeare
's works.Photo Credit: Joey Miller
Amelia Hammond plays Mary Hatch and Trevor Pittinger plays George Bailey
Jim Eikner stars as Clarence the Angel
The company sings about "start-up" FedEx Corporation as the show's title sponsor
Kim Justis, Amelia Hammond, and Lorraine Cotten
Actors Amelia Hammond, Trevor Pittinger, Jim Eikner, Lorraine Cotten, Bradley Kroeker, and Kim Justis