In Review: 'Wonderful Life' is delightful radio show

Thu, 2013-12-12 09:12 -- univcomm
December 12, 2013

At first glance, a handful of actors on the stage telling the classic tale of George Bailey’s woes with life may seem straightforward and simple, but it’s that simplicity that makes “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” complex.

Directed by Lynne Perkins Socey, the cast will perform “It’s A Wonderful Life” at Byrum Hall on Anderson University’s campus. Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Actors stand on stage in front of microphones and read dialogue from the popular movie.

[Photo: Radio announcer Freddie Filmore (Eric Hansen) warms up the live audience in the studios of radio station WBFR as the cast readies themselves for their live broadcast of "It's a Wonderful Life" on Christmas Eve in 1949. Anderson University students with Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project present "It's a Wonderful Life" at AU's Byrum Hall starting tonight.]

The audience is forced to use its imagination to see what is happening. Audience members don’t necessarily see on stage the main character stagger to a bridge where he contemplates suicide or what the town of Bedford Falls, N.Y., would look like if it became Pottersville.

What makes this “Wonderful Life” great is the cast’s ability to take on multiple roles.

Although he’s just one man, Eric Hansen has no problem performing various characters including the radio station announcer, Uncle Billy and Joseph. His knack for creating different mannerisms and voices for each role helps avoid confusion and is a treat to watch.

Josh Maldonado offers the right mix of charm and sorrow as George, aided by the portrayal of doting wife Mary by Savannah Treleven.

Like Hansen, cast members Aaron Jones, Ian Lawrence and Emily Farris do a phenomenal job taking on various personalities. Jones is at his best, though, when playing power hungry Henry Potter, while Lawrence seemed suited for George’s guardian angel.

It was amusing to see Farris transition from George’s mother into two of his children, particularly wide-eyed Zuzu.

Aside from acting, the cast wows with their singing voices throughout the show. Whether singing 1940s-style radio commercials or classic Christmas carols, the group’s hymn sound like Clarence, Angel Second Class, brought them down from heaven himself.

The young actors bring a fresh perspective to an old story that’s simply wonderful.

If you go:

  • When: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
  • Where: Byrum Hall at Anderson University
  • Tickets: $15 (Adults); $10 (Faculty, staff, senior); $5 (Students). Available at Byrum Hall box office or call 641-4140.

— Kelly Dickey is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credit: John P. Cleary. Story republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.