It’s (Still) A Wonderful Life: Northern Stage
Something old is something new. Northern Stage is taking on the classic holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and presenting it as a radio play.
Northern Stage has partnered with Vermont Public Radio to present a free one-time-only broadcast of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play on Saturday, December 12, at 3 p.m. This beloved American film by Frank Capra comes to life as a radio broadcast starring an ensemble cast of “Radio Actors” playing multiple roles (sound effects included). It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play is also available to stream on demand (audio only) December 8-January 3 as part of Northern Stage’s 2020/21 Season. For tickets and information, call (802) 296-7000 or visit northernstage.org. Tickets are $15 for individuals and $25 for families and household listening.
Northern Stage Producing Artistic Director Carol Dunne directs. According to Dunne:
“A radio play felt like the perfect opportunity to let people turn off their screens and experience a beloved classic in a new/old way! It was a privilege to record with socially distanced actors in our empty theater. We all had a sense of hope that live theater will survive and thrive after the pandemic. We hope that our production brings as much joy to our audiences as it did to us.”
The cast draws from Northern Stage favorites. Max Samuels (Oslo; A Christmas Carol) returns to play the hero, George Bailey; with Brittany Bellizeare (Camae in The Mountaintop) as George’s love interest Mary Hatch; Tom Ford (Mrs. Trunchbull in Matilda) as the dastardly Mr. Potter and the angelic Joseph; Damian Thompson (Edmund in last season’s King Lear) as Clarence, George’s guardian angel; Northern Stage’s Producing Artistic Director Carol Dunne as Rose Bailey, George’s mother; Jacob Tischler (Hound of the Baskervilles; Mary Poppins) as Stage Manager; and Dartmouth College/Northern Stage Experiential Learning Term students Jacqueline Byrne, Caitlin Deerin, and Jelinda Metelus.
Tune in to listen as George Bailey examines the value of his life in Bedford Falls, a small town much like those around the Upper Valley. (Seneca Falls, NY claims itself to be the direct inspiration for the story; I once stayed at the Hotel Clarence there—now the Gould Hotel—then named after the film’s guardian angel apprentice. I prefer to remain a tad skeptical of Seneca Falls’s claim. The first time I saw downtown Lebanon NH in the snow, I thought of the fictional Bedford Falls and could easily imagine Jimmy Stewart as George sliding across Colburn Park.) As with every year, the holiday season is not complete without the sound of the tinkling bell that assures that Clarence has earned his wings.
To quote CBS’s Charles Osgood (click here for his rhyming explanation), I’ll see you on the radio.
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Susan B. Apel retired from a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.