It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
Directed by Suzanne O’Donnell
Adapted by Joe Landry
Starring Duke Lafoon, David Edwards, Natalie Cordone, and Sarah French
Orlando Shakespeare Theater
It’s the season for roasting chestnuts, and this is certainly one of them. Shakes last did this script about 4 years ago, and while that’s a short recycle time, it just goes to show how hard it is to come up with a fresh seasonally heartwarming show. And this show isn’t even really ABOUT Christmas, it just sorts of lands there. By now you’ve seen this tale of good hearted George (Lafoon) who just can’t seem to ever get out, not even for WW2. Evil Mr. Potter (Edwards) seeks to take over this little town, and only George defies him by running a building and loan. Before these quaint institutions were run out of town by Goldman Sachs, they took local savings and lent them to local families for buying homes. Well, we can’t have THAT sort of foolishness, and while Potter schemes, George reluctantly helps people, raises a family, and generally acts as the gosh darn nicest guy in town. Everything falls apart when his bank loses $8k while being examined, and he’s so upset he’s about to jump off the bridge. It’s up to his guardian angel Clarence (Brandon Roberts) to save him.
I’ll say this: the radio play version gives this story a good bit more entertainment value. The multiple roles all the principals cover make sense (thanks to strong narration) and the multi-cultural air staff always entertains. Sound effects guy Melvin (Tyler Tanner) was particularly fun to watch as he stomped boots in gravel and argued with a garbage can. Mr. Edwards was not only a good Potter, but his three pack a day voice made for a great on air announce voice as well as the Chief Angel. Mr. Roberts got some meatier roles than he’s had here in the past; tonight, he voiced Clarence the angel and smoked a cigar. Ms. Cordone looked resplendent in her 40’s hat as she covered the tough gal roles while Ms. French led the way as Georges perfect wife. The preshow hustle had lobby girls selling 10 cent popcorn (but who carries cash anymore?) and the slightly anachronistic curtain speech dealt with the modern problem of people packing telephones everywhere. Some of us even got telegrams, complete with delivery by a guy in a stupid hat. This may be a seasonal re-run in a season devoted to re-runs, but its still personal enough to bring a tear to this old Scrooge’s eyes.
For more information on Orlando Shakespeare Theater, visit http://www.orlandoshakes.org