It’s a Wonder Life: A Live Radio Play – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

What better time to root for angels to get their wings then this season of giving. Clarence the wannabe angel in training, for two hundred years and counting, is praying you are on his side in his quest. Do you remember George Bailey as the reluctant iconic hero of one of the season’s most beloved stories? Whether you have known George Bailey for decades or you are a brand new acquaintance, the Hartford Stage’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” is filled with care and affection, thanks to playwright Joe Landry and directors Melia Bensussen and Rachel Alderman.

Until Sunday, December 26, you are invited to follow in George’s footsteps as he walks through his life in Bedford Falls, New York, an ordinary existence that he himself might describe as dull and without distincition.

Created as a 1940’s radio show, on Station WBFR, for Playhouse on the Air, the story by Philip Van Doren was originally a Frank Capra movie starring Jimmy Stewart. Here a troupe of talented actors – Michael Preston, Evan Zes, Gerardo Rodriguez, Jennifer Bareilles and Shirine Babb – play multiple roles as they create George’s life, up to the moment when he decides it isn’t worth living and the world would be better off if he had never been born.

While Ebenezer Scrooge has his three ghostly visitations on Christmas Eve, George is blessed with only one: Clarence, the apprentice angel who is more than two centuries old and has yet to earn his wings. The hard working and dependable George, who saves his brother Harry from drowning, stops a pharmacist Mr. Gower from dispensing a prescription with poison, stands up to the town’s tyrant, Mr. Potter, helps a community live in homes rather than shacks and marries a fine woman Mary Hatch and raises three children, learns that he is not a failure in life and that he has friends who bless him. Terrific sound effects by Foley Artist Leer Leary are like another character.

For tickets ($30 and up), call Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at Performances are Tuesday to Sunday at 7:30 pm, with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm.

Let your imagination soar as you listen to this tale of redemption and what it means to live a life of purpose.