Mile Square Theatre kicked off their eighteen day run of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry” on Thursday, Dec 6. Directed by Mary Catherine Burke and produced by playwright and producer Joseph Gallo, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” is a quirky and comical adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic on “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Before the play began, the Hoboken Children’s Theatre Choir set the tone by singing a variety of traditional Christmas carols.
Live on the air
Set in a 1940s radio station, the entire live rendition is delivered from only five cast members and three old-school radio mics.
Narrating a long prequel of George Bailey’s life before he considers ending it, the animated and multi-charactered cast nailed it.
Clarence the angel watches Bailey take a journey through his life in hopes of scoring his wings.
Bailey, a dreamer with 100-story high hopes and a hatful of wishes, has hit a series of forks in his road. His selfless nature lands him a life he never wanted and cost him the horizons he never saw. He settles down and marries good-girl Mary though he never wanted to marry at all. He takes over the family building and loan business because otherwise greedy nemesis Potter would have seized it. Turn after turn, he is forced to stay in his one-horse town. Finally, some missing money (which wound up in the hands of antagonist Potter) forces Bailey to wish he’d never been born.
The five actors, Charlie Kevin, Martin Landry, Eliza Simpson, Whitney Brown, and Andy Nogasky, play over 30 different parts between them, sometimes going from one character to the next in the same sentence from the same microphone. Nearly every time an actor approaches the mic, he is somebody new, yet the audience never gets lost.
Couple this with accents ranging from crotchety townspeople at a board meeting to pubescent children to rough-and-tumble New Yorkers and a multitude of organic and on-point sound effects, the story keeps your attention right to the end.
Martin Landry plays a perfect doe-eyed dreaming Bailey. Eliza Simpson is a great fit for cheekily traditional Mary Hatch. Radio host “Freddie Filmore” played by Charlie Kevin astoundingly takes on a multitude of characters, sometimes two different characters in conversation with one another, moving from accent to accent with out a hitch. Whitney Brown takes on over 10 characters, including sexy Violet. Andy Nogasky brings life to Clarence the Angel and 10 others with shared enthusiasm for every single one.
“The world needs more like George Bailey” and Hoboken needs more plays like this one.
Times and dates
The play runs until Sunday, Dec. 23, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.milesquaretheatre.org and at the Monroe Theatrespace box office or by calling (201) 683-7014. Tickets are $20, students and seniors are $12. The Monroe Theatrespace is located at 720 Monroe Street, Second Floor.
There is a “pay what you will” performance on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m., where audience members can pay what they wish, in the spirit of Christmas.
There is also a selection of wines to enjoy for a suggested donation of $3.
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.