“Merry Christmas, George Bailey!” the 1947 radio adaptation of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” will be staged by Seneca Community Players beginning this Thursday as the final production of their 2018 season.
Performed as a radio play sponsored by Lux Soap, the show is performed before a live radio audience complete with On Air and Applause signs, live sound effects and a pianist.
Performing in front of old-fashioned microphones, the cast is made up of 16 talented voice actors dressed in 1940’s costumes. The story of George and Mary Bailey is told while sound technicians Juan Espana and Mildred Phillips-Espana recreate the background sounds of footsteps, car motors, water splashing and glass shattering and Annie Bachman the shows pianist, provides dramatic music in the background.
With the exception of Eric Jansen, who delivers Jimmy Stewart’s role as George Bailey, each of the actors plays from two to as many as five characters.
Like the movie, the radio script tells of a child-like angel named Clarence, played by Pete Saracino, who hasn’t managed to earn his wings, who has been sent to Earth to try to prevent George Bailey from killing himself when he decides he is worth more dead, than alive. Clarence using information shown to him by Joseph, played by Michael Jansen, concerning the important events of George’s life, tries to convince George that he has had a wonderful life, after all.
Audience participation is encouraged and guided by signs calling for applause and a brief warm-up by stage manager, Pam Bryan. The show moves along at a brisk pace, and runs slightly over an hour.
The original story of It’s a Wonderful Life was inspired by a short story called The Greatest Gift, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1943 and sold to Frank Capra’s Production Company where it was adapted into the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.
Characters in the SCP production include: Mary Hatch played by Mariah Ernhout-Fegley, Mr Potter played by Stuart Sewell, Uncle Billy played by Paul Wendelich. Additional actors are Evelyn Balzer as Violet Bick, Mary McDonald as Mrs. Bailey, Debra Roper as Mrs. Hatch, Kathy Kirkland as Susan Blanchard, Mildred Espana as Libby Collins, and Michael Jansen & Kathy Kirkland play the children Peter & Zuzu. The show is being directed by Katie Hockey and Seth Kennedy.
Attendees of the It’s a Wonderful Life Festival which takes place Friday, Saturday & Sunday Dec. 7-9, will find additional opportunities to interact with SCP actors portraying many of the characters from the movie on the sidewalks and in the Parade. Street characters include: Kevin Schoonover as George, Sarah Fraher as Mary, Seth Kennedy as Mr Potter, Pete Saracino as Clarence, Maria Coleman as Violet Bick, Stephen Beals as Ernie the cap driver, Pat Fegley as Bert the cop and Paul Wenderlich as Uncle Billy
Performances of “Merry Christmas, George Bailey!” are being held at the “Bedford Falls Bijou Theater” at the Academy Square Auditorium, 12 N. Park St., Seneca Falls, NY.
Show dates and times are Thursday December 6th at 7pm, Saturday December 8th at 6pm and Sunday December 9th at 1pm. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to the show with refreshments offered before the show only, as there will be no intermission. Tickets may be purchased in advance in Seneca Falls at WomanMade Products, 91 Fall St., or by phone 315-568-9364<tel:315-568-9364>