‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’ opens at Artists’ Ensemble Nov. 30

Betsy Baker and Lance Retallick in It’s a Wonderful Life (a live radio play) at Artists’ Ensemble Theater. (Photo by John Cobb)

Staff Report

Return to those thrilling days of yesteryear and the Golden Age of radio as Artists’ Ensemble (AE) Theater presents It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play Nov. 30-Dec. 16.

The beloved holiday classic gets a fresh twist in this adaptation by playwright Joe Landry, presented as a radio broadcast taking place in a 1946 studio in front of a live audience.

George Bailey lives in the small town of Bedford Falls, N.Y., where he grew up. He had big ideas and ambitions, but life didn’t turn out the way he hoped. One Christmas Eve, George has a personal crisis and bitterly wishes he had never been born.

Enter Clarence, Angel Second Class.

Ensemble member Linda Abronski directs a cast of seven that creates the voices, the live music and sound effects to bring this timeless tale to life, complete with period commercials.

The cast features Chicago actor Lance A. Retallick as George and Ensemble member Richard Raether doing double duty as evil Mr. Potter and George’s guardian angel, Clarence.

Rounding out the cast are Betsy Baker as Mary, Tom Dotson, Erin Kathleen Philpott, Ramaad Morris and Kari Maratos.

Watching Ramaad work the sound effects table is going to be great fun for the audience,” Raether said. “He never stops, moving from the crank siren to the wind machine to the splash tub to putting shoes on his hands to create footsteps!”

Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Thursday tickets are $19. All other performances are $28, $26 for seniors and $10 for students.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.artistsensemble.org or by calling (815) 394-5004.

AE is an Equity professional theater performing in residence at Rockford College.

From the Nov. 21-27, 2012, issue

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