Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It's a Wonderful Life at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater.

Frank Capra's iconic holiday film,"It's a Wonderful Life" was adapted for the stage by Joe Landry.  The theater lobby was abuzz with activity when we arrived at the theater.  A newspaper boy was hawking his papers, then a man in uniform wandered through the crowd announcing that there was a telegraph for Al, then two girls in uniform offered popcorn.  The time and place were the sound stage at WOST radio in NYC in 1946.  The stars of the radio play were announced and screaming teens rushed them for autographs.

After George Bailey (Duke Lafoon) wishes he had never been born, an angel (Brandon Roberts) is sent to earth to make George's wish come true. George starts to realize how many lives he has changed and impacted, and how they would be different if he was never there. George dreamed big and wanted to escape from the small town of Bedford Falls.  On graduation night in 1928, George talks to Mary Hatch, (Sarah French) who has had a crush on him from an early age. They are interrupted by news of his father's death. George postpones his travel plans in order to sort out the family business, the Bailey Brothers' Building and Loan.

Georges future looks bleak when his absent minded uncle looses $8000 which he was supposed to deposit at the bank.  Today that amount would be equal to $100,000.  When George contemplated suicide, he was saved by his guardian angel. Most actors play several parts in the radio play so in some ways it is better not to see the actors since it can get confusing as to which part they might be playing at any given time.  Since I was sketching, I experienced the play by listening as I sketched. I didn't catch all the actors on stage, but focused on George and Mary as they fell in love. 

The story is a Christmas classic and it was very fun to step back in time to become part of a 1940s radio studio audience.  The applause sign triggered just the right amount of applause when needed.  I wish I had been closer to the sound technician who slammed doors and walked shoes in the sand to recreate the sound of walking in fresh snow.

If you need a heart warming classic to get you in the mood for the holidays, then "It's a Wonderful Life" is your ticket.

"It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play"
By Joe Landry | Original Music and Musical Arrangements by Kevin Connors
Orlando Shakes - November 29 - December 30, 2017

For tickets and more information, visit  

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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