Imagine it is 1946. You, like everyone else, are an avid radio listener, spending hours enjoying the variety of entertainment offered all along the dial. Now you’ve just been given tickets to attend a live radio broadcast in a New York City studio on Christmas Eve. You’re thrilled because you’ll see some of your favourite radio stars in person, watch live sound effects being made and be a part of a national radio audience.
It’s not really 1946, of course, but it might as well be when you share in the magic of the Summerland Singers and Players’ production of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, which opens on Dec. 1.
Dressed in 1940s attire, five actors perform in front of old-style microphones, voicing all the characters in this heartwarming story, from idealistic George Bailey, who gives up his dreams in order to help others and now faces a life crisis, to Clarence, his guardian angel, who just wants to earn his wings.
On one side of the stage, the foley artist, a must-have in live radio, uses all manner of objects and materials to produce all the sound effects needed in the show, from clinking silverware and banging doors to crunchy snow and howling winds. And don’t forget the commercials, with their advertising jingles sung by the cast, just as they would be in days gone by.
Linda Guebert, the director of the drama, said he heard about the radio play when she was living in California and performed it with a community theatre group there in 2016.
The audience will be part of the studio audience, encouraged to applaud, laugh or cry.
“The audience will be part of the play,” she said.
Starring in this production are Mackenzie Laureiro, Dawn Bassett, Bryan Laver, Leigh Bruce and Al Toots, with Craig Henderson as the foley artist. Ken Gray provides musical accompaniment.
It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play will be performed at the Summerland United Church on Dec. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7 p.m.; Sunday performances, at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $25 ($22 for seniors and students) and are available online at Ticket Owl (ticketowl.io/summerlandsingersandplayers).