Central Wisconsin Area Community Theater (cwACT) will perform “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” Friday, Dec. 21, in the Ben Franklin Junior High auditorium, 2000 Polk St., Stevens Point.
Pre-show family activities, including arts and crafts and face painting, will begin at 6 p.m. Santa will be in attendance from 6 to 7 p.m., and people are encouraged to bring their cameras for picture opportunities.
The family-friendly radio play will be performed at 7 p.m. and will last about an hour and a half with no intermission.
It is inspired by the classic American Christmas film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but is performed live on stage in the style of a 1940s live radio broadcast.
“It’s written to have the audience be a part of an early 1900s radio play,” said Scott Price, the play’s director. “You’ll see the people reading the parts and you’ll see the people making the sound effects.”
It’s a new idea for cwACT. Price, who has a theater background but is making his cwACT directorial debut with the radio play, said the group was looking to do something for the Christmas holiday but didn’t have much time to get a performance together. He volunteered the idea of doing a radio play live on stage, something he had done a couple of times before but that hasn’t been done much in this area. “It’s going to be a new kind of experience,” said Price.
For the audience it’ll be a bit like being in on the joke, he said, as the actors read their parts and the sound effects are produced to accompany the story. Sally and Ron Lunt have been working to create the sound effects for the cwACT production. “They’re having a blast,” said Price.
Performing a radio show in front of a live audience is also true to how many radio programs were produced historically. “The best part of this play is it even has commercials built in,” said Price, who said he grew up listening to “The Shadow,” a radio drama his father liked.
And though the format of a radio play may be new for many, the subject matter will likely not be. The play is adapted from the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.
“The lines are exactly from the movie,” said Price noting that the actors have worked to find their own characters in the voices. “It’s coming along great… You really have to express yourself with your voice.”
The script was written by playwright Joe Landry and premiered in 1996 at Stamford Center for the Arts in Stamford, Conn. It has since been performed around the country.
Performers in the cwACT production, many of whom play multiple characters, include Joe Battaglia, Ann Leahy, Megan Kapke, Aiden Price, Jonah Price, Josie Potocki, Jared Lunt, Karl Weyers, Eric Finn, Brad Bidell, Liz Kawleski, Sue Calinski, Debbie Dernell, Diane Kippenhan-Vollmer, Liz Peterson, Melissa Potocki, Claire Knapp, Anna Fehring, Maxine Hogan, Lori Revels and Michelle Nerren.
Tickets will be available at the door and are $10 for adults, $5 for children 5-17, and free for children younger than 5. For more information visit www.cwact.org or Central Wisconsin Area Community Theater (cwACT) on Facebook.