Archikulture Digest

It’s A Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>It’s A Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>By Joe Landry

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>Directed by Jim Howard

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>With Jim Howard, Richard Width, Ame Livingston, Larry Stallings, and Amy Terechenok

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>Orlando Theater Project at The Garden Theater in Winter Garden, FL

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>Ever since this chestnut escaped into the public domain, it’s become as big a part of our holiday tradition as sticky candy canes and peeing on Santa’s lap. Unlike that other staple seat filler, it’s not quite in danger of “Being Done To Death”, but it’s on that slippery slope. Until that inevitable disaster occurs we can quietly slip back to a 1940’s radio station where the cast of voices present the verbal version of the play, complete with sound effects and a very mild back stage drama.

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>Too-nice-to be true George Bailey (Width) struggles to keep his tiny Building and Loan afloat as the town meanie Mr. Potter (Howard) tries to take it over. When $8000 goes missing, George decides he’s worth more dead than alive through the miracle of Term Life Insurance. He’ll sacrifice himself instead of losing face and bothering the FDIC for the money. What a guy! Angel second class Clarence Odbody (Larry Stallings) get the job of saving George, and shows him how cheap and tawdry life in Bedford Falls might be, had George not been born.

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>I suspect real radio people didn’t dress as nicely as this cast, but the premise is entertaining – rather than blocking the show as if Bedford Falls was real, we see people scrambling to slam a door and then run to a microphone for a cue. Jim Howard sets the mood with his made for radio announcing style, while Larry Stalling does what he does best: project a nervous, uptight energy making Clarence seem like he might never get his promotion. Richard Width’s charm projects into his George, and as the only one character player, we never get to see him as two people arguing at once. The female roles were filled by Ame Livingston and Amy Terechenok, with Ms. Livingston in the clean cut roles like George’s uber nice wife Mary. Ms. Terechenok’s roles leant more toward the fallen woman roles, including Violet. Violet was George’s first girlfriend, and if he had never been on the scene, she’d be walking the streets.

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>Watching the radio actors is more interesting than watching the movie itself. We get a few silly ad breaks, a back story about a missing and presumed drunk sound effects guy, and a preshow that builds anticipation for the final count down to On Air. Ron Gravilla’s slightly claustrophobic set brings us into the radio studio, although there’s no way he could ever recapture that smell of warm electronics and cold cigarette butts.

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>With a nod and a wink we know that this is just a play and we should all relax. Sure, it’s crammed with subtext about banking reform and urban planning, but those subjects are just as timeless as love and death and what’s in that oddly shaped box under the tree. These radio actors feel more real than their on air characters, and after the show they’ll all retire to a bar across the street for a couple of double bourbons before they come back for their next shift. I haven’t seen this in ages: a holiday show that tastes fresh, and doesn’t leave that synthetic sweetener aftertaste.

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>For more information on Orlando Theater Project, please visit http://www.otp.cc

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>For more information on The Garden Theatre in Winter garden, please visit http://wgtheater.org or http://www.myspace.com/gardentheatre

<

p class=”MsoNormal”>


Recently on Ink 19...

Garage Sale Vinyl: Linda Ronstadt

Garage Sale Vinyl: Linda Ronstadt

Garage Sale Vinyl

Vinyl junkie Christopher Long discovers a treasure trove of budget-priced used LPs in Vero Beach, Florida — including a well-loved copy of the 1974 Linda Ronstadt breakout album, Heart Like a Wheel — for a buck.

Garage Sale Vinyl: The Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Garage Sale Vinyl: The Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Garage Sale Vinyl

Rifling through a boxful of ravaged old records, Christopher Long locates a flea market LP copy of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils Don’t Look Down — for a quarter — and speaks with the band’s co-founding bassist, Michael “Supe” Granda, about his amazing discovery.

%d bloggers like this: