“We are live in five, four, three, two….”
The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre’s production of “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” returned to the stage in Warwick this past weekend and will run now through Dec. 24. A unique twist on the classic film, actors and actresses find themselves at the WGAM radio station reading the script on air while it is broadcasted throughout Warwick, Rhode Island. Seven cast members along with one Foley artist transport the audience from the radio station to the 1940s town of Bedford Falls where George Bailey’s story unfolds.
George, who is down on his luck and contemplates suicide, receives help from Clarence – an angel waiting for his wings. After learning about George’s childhood, Clarence shows him what life would be like if he never existed.
In the fourth annual performance of the play, several actors and actresses returned to the stage – including Lynsey Ford (who plays Mary Hatch and Rose Bailey) and Fred Sullivan Jr. (who plays Clarence, Henry Potter and others). Ford captured the audience’s attention through her line delivery and expressions where one can tell how much she loves George. Sullivan received many laughs for Potter’s line delivery as a greedy old man. With several almost back to back lines between Potter and Clarence, Sullivan did an impressive job switching characters. Additional veterans to the play include Helena Tafuri (Violet Bick, Janie Bailey and others) and Richard Noble (Joseph, Billy Bailey and others).
This year, Jeff Church took on the role of George Bailey which Gamm’s Artistic Director Tony Estrella has played for the last three years; Church voiced Harry Bailey, Ernie Bishop and others in last year’s performance. Church is an earnest George Bailey – revealing how much George wants to leave Bedford Falls and see the world. The audience feels his struggle but also shares in his excitement when things start looking up. New to the performance this year are Will Malloy (Foley artist), Milly Massey (announcer and Zuzu Bailey) and Rodney Witherspoon II.
The production features several interactive portions for audience members including a sing along at the beginning of the play which will get individuals into the holiday spirit. The cast also hands out message cards prior to the play which are read over the radio station’s airwaves. Many of the notes are short, sweet and filled with holiday cheer.
While there is no intermission, the radio station does take commercial breaks that leave Bedford Falls in a suspenseful state – making individuals want to immediately return to the story. The commercials are comical and include witty jingles.
“It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” will play now through Dec. 24 at the Gamm Theatre (1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, RI, 02886). As a side note, the Dec. 17 matinee performance will be a masked matinee. This is the only performance where guests are required to wear a mask in the building.
Tickets are between $55 and $75 for general admission, $20 for children/students and $30 for rush tickets; there are also discounts for groups of 10 or more. The play is 90 minutes long and individuals can find out more information about the production by visiting gammtheatre.org or calling 401-723-4266.
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