Next Act’s live radio holiday show

David Cescarini: "It's a Wonderful Life Live Radio Show" combines George Bailey's iconic story with old-time radio charm.
November 13th, 2012 |
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Like most well told tales, It’s a Wonderful Life spans generations without losing relevancy. That’s because George Bailey’s story exposes the heart of the human condition—the desire to continue living honorably in the face of struggle, and the internal reward that comes from doing so.

Combine It’s a Wonderful Life’s classic story with the nostalgic air of a live radio show, and you have the makings for a dynamic and heartwarming performance, just in time for the holidays.

That’s what artistic director David Cecsarini hopes to achieve with Next Act Theatre’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life Live Radio Show.

“The story is so rich,” says Cecsarini, “George’s struggle to do the right thing really engages and inspires. It’s a Wonderful Life doesn’t go out of date or wear out your emotional chemistry.”

Although Cecsarini has a great base to work with, Next Act’s Mary MacDonald Kerr adapted the existing screenplay for six performers.

“This is a multi-faceted performance,” says Cecsarini, “There’s a front story with the main characters, presented by the radio characters with antique microphones toward the back. You can listen or watch or do both. I’ll be interested to see if audience members choose to close their eyes.”

Cecsarini will add another layer to the story, playing the role of Foley artist, using the sounds of physical objects to create images for the listeners.

“Imagine experiencing radio for the first time. Those people experienced a shift in thought—the world was opened to them. I remember listening to radio as a kid, back when the quality would allow you to tune into New York or somewhere, these far away places…you tuned into a life that was so far removed from you. That captivating sense of travel is not easily replicated.”

But when it’s allowed to work—when you can imagine something through language alone—tapping into those images is incredibly rewarding.

“Theater depends on words,” says Cessarini, “We all know the final scene in It’s a Wonderful Life, when we see how many lives George has affected. That still translates in the radio show. It’s very fulfilling. The idea that there are heroes in modesty, that you reap what you sow, that you earn friends and trust simply by doing the right thing because it’s the right thing—those ideas always translate.”

It’s a Wonderful Life Live Radio Show runs at Next Act Theatre Fri. Nov. 16 through Dec. 9. Tickets are $25, $30 or $35 depending on the showtime. Check out the full schedule and order tickets online, or call 414-278-7780.

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