It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
By Joe Landry
Directed by Tom Larkin
Starring Cory Boughton, Kaje Holthouse, Marcie Schwalm, and John Seegers
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL
Just as the law imposes a blood alcohol limit on drivers, I have a self imposed holiday sappiness limit and this show is just barley legal for me. But it’s got the Radio gimmick going for it, so I can’t really dislike it on principle. You’ve seen IAWL a dozen times: George Bailey (Boughton) grows up in small town America and subjugates his entire life to offering fair and honest financing for the working classes of Bedford Falls. He rescues drowning brothers, passes on college, misses out on the war and a Silver Star and generally acts as the foil to evil Mr. Potter (Bret Carson). But at some piont, all this selflessness gets to be too much and he say’s “Screw it. I’m getting hammered and committing suicide. That’ll show all those unappreciative immigrants!” But Clarence T. Angel (Carson again) does a reverse Grandfather paradox time travel whammy on him and George learns that people love him, he has done immeasurable good, but maybe he should have considered that obscenely generous offer Potter made him to get out of home lending and into leveraged buyout.
There’s a rock solid cast here – besides Boughton and Carson you’ve got John Seeger with the most wonderful radio voice in Orlando, Marcie Schwalm in her ever stylish snood playing all the bad girls, and newcomer Kaje Holthouse as George’s faithful wife. David Strauss covers the miscellaneous men’s roles (including the bratty kid, he was born for that role) and Andrew Hakimipour as the out of sync sound effects guy. That was the one thing about this show that jarred, he was supposed to be missing sound cues for humorous effect, but it never got a laugh. If you’re going to put a sound effect guy on stage, watching him hit the mark is where the real fun lies.
Despite this, the show flows along and sticks close enough to radio reality for today’s market and George Baileys decent into Hollywood Hell and redemption feels reasonably natural. Radio drama is more and more exotic in this iPad world, but it’s still fun to watch unabashed performance where sound rules and motion is all about finding the microphone at the last second. Close your eyes and you can smell the warm hum of the old Atwater Kent cathedral radio. Somehow, it smells like …love.
Or over heated phenolic. They’re very similar emotions.
For more information on Breakthrough Theatre, please visit http://www.breakthroughtheatre.com