HEARTWARMING. CLEVER. ENCHANTING.
HEARTWARMING. CLEVER. ENCHANTING.
A RADIO PLAY WITHIN A PLAY
It Truly is a Wonderful Life
Each cast member not only plays their character at the radio station but also a character in the radio show. Which brings about some funny moments. Especially Nicole Angeli who plays Ruby, the janitor, as well as Mr. Potter and other minor characters. The way Ruby hams it up will have you laughing out loud. Carl Overly, Jr plays the self-important radio master of ceremonies, Chester Collins and gets quite frustrated when he is upstaged by Ruby. But he gives great 1940s radio voice. Roxane McWilliams (Minnie Hoople), Alicia Reve’ Like (June Kelly), and Mindy Shaw (Vera Hayes) do what women do best; handle business. Abraham Shaw plays Walter Bell, the unsuspecting mailman , who is finishing his route and eager to get home to his wife and child is wrangled into playing George Bailey. And an ample George he is. Rounding out the cast is Chris Ware (Floyd Rogers) the Foley. He creates the sound effects that were once standard in radio plays. All the things that piques a child’s imagination and perhaps experimentation on household items. The show runs 50 minutes and is perfect for in school performances. Although this is MTC’s public performance show and will not tour. But it makes a great afternoon of theatre or an early evening for the kids. The production runs at the:
Grandel Theater, 3610 Grandel Square, St. Louis, MO 63108 Sundays at 2pm, November 17, 24; December 1,8,15 Fridays at 7pm, November 22, December 6, 13 (No performance on November 29) Saturdays at 4pm, I could only think about my holiday ritual, each year, of waiting for Frank Capra’s, It’s A Wonderful Life to show up in the television line-up, along with A Charlie Brown Christmas, The 2D animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and A Christmas Story. In It’s A Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart is the strong and emotional George Bailey. Donna Reed, the loving and supportive wife. I love the Hollywood ending; all the community comes together and helps George out. So, I was curious about Metro Theater Company’s production which included a radio play. I wondered what did a radio play have to do with this film that I have long cherished? Turns out, that this delightful reworking of the telling of the story, a play inside of a play, written by staff member, John Wolbers, is just as wonderful as the Capra film, albeit, it is not the same. I asked John about why he decided to write this show. He said that Julia Flood (Artistic Director) who also directed the piece, suggested it because she wanted a show for the holidays. I was also interested in why she picked this show and she said that the point of the piece is to show that one person can impact a community. And their absence can also impact the community. It makes you wonder, what would the world be if we all were fully participating or fully absent. I like to think that all of us together is what makes life beautiful, magical, extraordinary. Set at the fictional KMTC radio station, in the 1940s, the audience is compelled to participate as the live studio audience. The set, built by Jamie Perkins, transports us back to time when buildings were warmed with radiated heat and the black and white tile floor was all the fashion. The piece put me in mind of the play, Into the Breeches, by George Brant. The staff at the station is thrown into the show because the usual cast cannot perform. In this case it is not war but because of illness. It is either skip the show, that they
November 23, 30; December 7
(No Saturday performance Dec. 14)
have worked on all year, or everyone has to pitch in and make it work. No one is spared. Not the janitor nor the mailman. This is tradition, for heaven’s sake. And like true theatre folk, the show must go on.
Tickets are $14-$20 and are available at MetroTix at 314.534.1111 or http://www.metrotix.com/events/detatil/metro-theater-company-its-a-wonderful-life.
Just as Capra’s film version is a classic, I believe that Metro has done a splendid job of creating a classic of their own. Do yourself a favor this holiday season and go see this play!
~Mariah L. Richardson