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"It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" by Joe Landry

In time for the holidays at the Phoenix Stage Company November 25, 26, December 2, 3, 9 & 10, 2011 at 8:00pm November 27, December 4 & 11, 2011 at 2:00pm

"Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life is a classic that'll never to be surpassed by any remake. But what this play has to sacrifice, it makes up for with its original twist, its clever use of props, entertaining voices and a love story that you want to witness over and over again." - Teresa Errico, Fairfield County Weekly

NOVEMBER 25-DECEMBER 11, 2011
Fridays & Satudays at 8:00 p.m. • Sundays at 2:00 p.m.

Inspired by the classic American film, “It's a Wonderful Life,” IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY is performed as a 1940s live radio broadcast in front of a studio audience. A small troupe of actors perform the dozens of characters in the radio play as well as produce the sound effects. With the help of an ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.

Directed by Ian Diedrich, the cast features Jim Buffone (Bob in ,) Tim Cleary, Emily Diedrich (Cathy in ,) John Fabiani ( ,) Erich Greene, Al Hathway, Kate Samberg (Sister Mary Catherine in , Jeff Savage ( ,) Greg Weaver and Mary Wilson.

See IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY at Phoenix Stage Company beginning Nov. 25 thru Dec. 11, 2011 (Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.; Sundays at 2:00 p.m.). 

For Tickets call (203) 632-8546 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com.

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oliver diedrich November 26, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Ian and Emily Diedrich not Dietrich Oliver Diedrich Co-Chairman Naugatuck Teen Theater
Nancy Sasso Janis November 26, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Director Ian Diedrich along with cast members Jim Buffone and Al Hathway appeared on Backstage with Johnny O on WZBG. Diedrich spoke of the challenges of creating the world of a live radio show with no scene changes. The ten actors remain on stage for the entire show stationed behind four microphones with scripts when not sitting on chairs awaiting their lines. (Think A Prairie Home Companion) Except for Buffone (Jake Laurents/George Bailey) and Emily Diedrich (Sally Applewhite/Mary Hatch Bailey,) the actors play at least four roles each in this “show within a show.” Set in the forties, the director is trying hard to avoid a spoof and produce a holiday show that “warms the cockles of the heart.” Buffone, who said that he loves the It’s a Wonderful Life movie, will not be attempting to copy the iconic Jimmy Stewart in the George Bailey role and has had to “make a Jake,” the role of the actor playing George. Hathway, with 30 years experience backstage, plays the role of Foley artist Philip Austin onstage and is assisted by Greg Weaver. He is the special effects guy stationed behind a large table bearing all his “stuff” and he provides between 40 to 50 sounds. Jeff Savage will play the announcer and John Fabiani plays the roles of Mr. Potter, Martini and an Irish cop. You can hear the entire podcast of this 11/19 interview at http://johnnyo.podbean.com/ and don’t miss the Godspell tunes that a listener (me!) requested.
Nancy Sasso Janis November 26, 2011 at 06:03 PM
My Review I had the pleasure of attending the final dress rehearsal of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play on Thanksgiving Eve. I really enjoyed the show and it was so interesting to me to watch the actors practice their curtain call and hear the director give his notes after the show ended. Special thanks to the partners in the Phoenix Stage Company for allowing me to “crash” the rehearsal and for providing me with an advance copy of the program. Truth be told, I can’t say that I have ever sat through the entire movie It’ a Wonderful Life. I have never been a fan of old movies in general. I do remember watching a remake called It Happened One Christmas starring Marlo Thomas as a female George Bailey, so I had a working knowledge of the plot. I daresay that this radio play of the classic movie could stand alone. The troop of actors is performing the radio version of the movie live and the audience gets to watch and even participate by applauding at the correct times. There is a lighted applause sign on the set designed by Ed Bassett and Ian Diedrich. The actors leave the stage only for intermission; when they are not at the (working) microphones, they are seated on antique folding chairs at the back of the stage.
Nancy Sasso Janis November 26, 2011 at 06:03 PM
(continued) At the beginning it was hard to resist the urge to watch them instead of the characters at the microphones because they were so good at being actors waiting for their lines. The two Foley artists did a great job with providing the sounds for the radio broadcast and remained stationed behind their table laden down with their many props/noisemakers. I wished I could have seen how they made some of them, but I guess that would ruin the magic. The costumes were period appropriate and the sound was well done. The actors were what made this show great. Jeff Savage as Freddie Filmore/Announcer and seven others had a great voice and the acting to match. Al Hathway and Greg Weaver did amazing work as the Foley Guys and Weaver doubled as the (onstage) stage manager. Erich Greene (Trevor Ward) mastered seven roles and had the best program quote when he wrote that he “is happy to be making his first appearance at the Phoenix Stage Company (which is, surprisingly, neither flammable nor in Phoenix.)”
Nancy Sasso Janis November 26, 2011 at 06:05 PM
(continued) John Fabiani as Willie Kurtz got to play the role of the villainous Mr. Potter and did a great job, but his take on an Italian Mr. Martini was just as good. Tim Cleary got to be Clarence the angel, as well as six other roles, and showed a great range of voices, as did Mary Wilson with her five roles. The lovely Kate Samberg, as the actress Lana Sherwood, showed great versatility in her six roles. Fresh from her role as a nun in Drinking Habits, she once again wore black, but this time a pleated short dress. In the role of Sally Applewhite/Mary Hatch was the multi-talented Emily (Dann) Diedrich who acted up a storm and even got to sing a few commercials with the other ladies. I am not sure how she ever got her long hair into a 1940’s updo, but she would have fit right into the era. Finally, the amazing Jim Buffone has the acting chops to play Jake Laurents and George Bailey to perfection. While he was not trying to imitate Jimmy Stewart, at times the essence of the actor crept in and that wasn’t a bad thing. He definitely had the most “airtime” and he rose to the challenge. Ian Diedrich directed this wonderful cast very well and definitely reached the “cockles” of my heart. I plan to see it again with my Maple Hill theater buddies during the second weekend. Go see this heartwarming last show of the 2011 season at Naugatuck’s only community theater. It will get your holiday season off to a great start.

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