SONORA — Sierra Repertory Theatre brings the spirit of the holiday season to its East Sonora stage with Joe Landry’s live 1940s radio broadcast version of the beloved film “It’s A Wonderful Life”, playing now through Dec. 22.
Seven actors play dozens of characters, while a foley artist produces the sound effects, all in front of their live studio audience.
“So many people have commented on how much this show is like the film, and they really like that,” said actor Tom Andrew, who played the role of George Bailey for six seasons at Cygnet Theatre in San Diego and will reprise the role at Sierra Rep this winter. “I have also had many people come up to me who don’t like the film but love this show. To me that says a lot about the format of the show.”
Andrew received a 2008 Craig Noel award from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle for his role in the show, and The San Diego Union-Tribune called his performance “remarkable and touching.”
The engaging and spirit-lifting tale follows George Bailey as he learns that “no man is a failure who has friends.” After a lifetime of dreaming, George finds himself still at home in Bedford Falls, blessed with a wife and children and often helping those in need through his inherited loan company. But when a large amount of money suddenly goes missing, George wonders if the people he loves would be better off without him. Enter Clarence, an angel in line to earn his wings. Clarence shows George a world without George Bailey, proving just what a wonderful life George possesses.
“The part of George Bailey is an amazing gift to play,” Andrew said. “To know how important your individual life is to everyone you come in contact with is something I really never thought about. George’s journey has made me think a lot about that.”
San Diego-based actor Tim West plays Clarence, a role West also performed alongside Andrew at Cygnet Theatre. Fresno actor Chris Carsten, who recently played Professor Higgins in the national tour of My Fair Lady, provides the voice of head angel Joseph, as well as the Announcer. Sonora actress Susan Chapman plays George’s love interest, Mary, while Chicago actress Cathy Schenkelberg, Washington state actor Nick Ferrucci and Sierra Rep favorite Caitlin Randall (Church Basement Ladies, Cinderella) voice various other characters. Justin Lang, whose experience includes acting, direction, sound design, and teaching, provides the foley sound effects.