IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE at Long Wharf -- Fun version of an American Classic Christmas Story
By Bob And Karen Isaacs
KAREN: Ebenezer Scrooge and “A Christmas Carol” became a holiday classic almost as soon as it was first published, but “It’s Wonderful Life” -- the closest American holiday classic -- was not recognized until well after the film came out. Yet today, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and its hero George Bailey, has become a part of everyone’s Christmas.
BOB: Long Wharf in New Haven has a variation on the classic film -- a work that is now called “It’s a Wonderful Life -- a Live Radio Play,” written by Joe Landry from the original story -- "The Greatest Gift," by Philip VanDoren Stern. What we have is a presentation of the film which we view being presented for a radio audience.
KAREN: But we, the theater audience are also the live radio audience, and we are encouraged to applaud at various times.
BOB: The cast of five directed by Eric Ting, play all the roles by changing their voices to capture the characters. The way Ting introduces it is particularly interesting as Alex Moggeridge -- who eventually becomes George Bailey -- enters a darkened radio studio -- seemingly abandoned -- and sets in motion the ghosts of the other performers who all play multiple roles.
KAREN: It is truly amazing to watch the performers transform themselves into the different characters -- from children to the elderly, even the angel Clarence and different nationalities, with just their voices.
BOB: You will get the complete story with all its ups and downs during the course of the hour and 50 minute intermission-less production. You will also get some pseudo-radio commercials, and get a sense of the personalities of the actors who move about as if they were radio performers.
KAREN: We have to single out Nathan Roberts, who is the Foley artist -- that is the man who makes all the sound effects. It’s fascinating to see his paraphernalia and how he creates sounds of things such as walking, door slamming, packages opening and more.
BOB: Overall the cast if very good -- but exceptional -- is Dan Domingues -- who manages to play George Bailey's uncle and the villain -- Henry Potter. They have several scenes together and Domingues easily goes back and forth between the two distinctive characters.
KAREN: If you love the Jimmy Stewart film -- and Stewart actually did a radio production of this -- you will enjoy Long Wharf’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It is also fascinating for those of you who love old radio and for those who have never seen a live radio show.
BOB: It runs through Dec. 31.
This review appeared on WHNU-88.7 fm and www.wnhu.net.