It’s the holiday season, and you’re nodding off a bit, (perhaps you shouldn’t have had that second helping of turkey), listening to George Bailey, (James Stewart) desperately trying to convince his guardian angel to give him back his life in Bedford Falls. No, wait – you’re sitting in the Prince Theatre, in another not quite so sleepy small town, and it’s John Lesser, aka Lee Wright, reading the part of George Bailey in the Garfield Center’s current production, “Live From WVL Radio Theatre, It’s a Wonderful Life.” Confused yet ?
The story-within-a-story, an adaption by Willie Repoley of the Frank Capra film, is this: WVL station may close forever if the radio drama of “It’s a Wonderful Life” is not aired; a winter snow storm prevents the regular cast from arriving. The four who do make it must perform multiple roles, using just the two microphones, as well as provide all the sound effects.
And for those who are not familiar with the film, the plot is as follows: Although he always dreamed of seeing the world, for one
reason or another, George Bailey repeatedly sacrifices his dreams for others, remains in Bedford Falls, marries and becomes manager of the local building and loan. It is Christmas Eve, George is in deep financial woes and considering suicide, when a guardian angel, Clarence, comes to his rescue. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and the contributions he has made to his community. Produced in 1946, the film is now considered a Christmas television staple, and recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made. But when it was made, the movie was considered a box office flop. (It was nominated for five Oscars without winning any.)
Rachel Dilliplane, (aka Evelyn Reed, the station manager’s daughter & Mary Bailey, George’s wife), and Lucia Foster, (aka Kitty Dale & George Bailey’s mother), elicit plenty of laughs when they start creating the sound effects, then realize they have a speaking part coming up, and dash to the microphone. Lucia Foster is particularly adept at changing characters;
her imitation of the local taxi driver is priceless.
Carrington Richie, (aka C Mays), is wonderfully pompous as the heartless slumlord, Potter, who tries to woo George away from the bank. And John Lesser does indeed sound like James Stewart. How many times has he seen the movie? Kudos to director Diane Landskroener and cast for making it all look so effortless.
Theatre goers should plan to arrive 45 minutes early, as there will be live musical performances in the Kohl Lobby prior to each performance. Saturday, November 26th Phil Dutton performs on piano; guitarists Pete Heck and Keith Thompson play Sunday the 27th. The following weekend Press Harding and Jodi Littleton perform for First Friday; Saturday Dec 3 it’s Mary Ashley, Rebecca Pitre, Jon and Dave Simmons; Dr Keith Wharton and the Kent County Jazz Ensemble conclude on Sunday.
In an added twist, WCTR will record the performance live from the Garfield and broadcast it on Sunday, November 27 at 3pm, the same time as it is being performed live on stage. Tune in to 1530AM to experience the show as “theatre of the mind.”
Saturday November 26: music 7:15, play 8pm
Sunday, November 27: music 2:15, play 3pm
Friday, December 2: music 7:15, play 8pm
Saturday, December 3: music 7:15, play 8pm
Sunday, December 4: music 2:15, play 3pm
Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre
210 High St
Chestertown, Md 21620
410 810 2060
Letters to Editor
lynda willard says
saw this performance sunday afternoon. what a wonderful show. very very entertaining. john lesser is such an amazing actor. they are all amazing! never a dull moment. i highly recommend this show to everyone.
Andrew Thomas says
Make sure to check out WCTR’s YouTube Channel for a few videos on It’s A Wonderful Life. We have interviews with the whole cast and a background look at the show w/ a one minute scene. All on TheTownWCTR’s YouTube Channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/TheTownWCTR?feature=mhee.