In Play Reviews

Anyone familiar with the 1946 Frank Capra classic It’s a Wonderful Life (starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed) or in need of a feel-good evening of entertainment will love Joe Landry‘s It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, which opened last weekend.

Alyssa Longoria, Susannah Mars, and Victoria Schindler, with Jimmy Garcia on piano in It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Photo by David Kinder.

Artists Repertory Theatre presents this delightful production at Northwest Children’s Theater in the Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center. With its elevated stage and huge seating area, this is a perfect venue for a holiday show.

Directed by Beth Harper, It’s a Wonderful Life–the movie and the radio play–is the story of George Bailey, a nice, unassuming, small-town guy who grows up to be an even nicer small-town guy. George dreams of bigger things, and does not remain a small-town guy by choice. As a result, his becomes a life of disappointments and what-ifs, until, when the big crisis arrives, George, who has struggled gamely through it all, has had enough. That’s when Clarence the Guardian Angel steps in.

Chris Harder and Jimmy Garcia, with David Bodin, Susannah Mars, and Victoria Schindler in the background. It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Show, photo by David Kinder.

David Bodin as Freddie Fillmore, the radio station manager, is the voice of villain Potter and others in the radio show. Chris Harder plays Jake Laurents, the voice of George Bailey and others. Susannah Mars as Sally Applewhite, is the voice of Mary Bailey and others. Jimmy Garcia is Harry “Jazzbo” Heywood and the voice of Clarence the angel and others. Leslie North is the foley artist, which in radio-speak means she does sound effects, and also some fun commercials. Alyssa Longoria and Victoria Schindler play the singing Sherwood Sisters.

The play features vintage costumes designed by Wanda Walden, wigs by Diane Trapp, scenic design by John Ellingson, lighting by Kristeen Willis Crosser, and sound design by Rodolfo Ortega and Jake Newcomb. Ortega also is music director for the show.

Susannah Mars and Leslie North in It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Photo by David Kinder.

Playwright Joe Landry is no stranger to “Live Radio” plays. He’s adapted Meet Me in St. Louis, The War of the Worlds, and others, and also has created a spoof on the 1930s film Reefer Madness. All sound like terrific fun.

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play runs through December 30 at Northwest Children’s Theater, 1819 NW Everett, Portland.






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