Theater review: It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

If watching Frank Capra's classic "It's a Wonderful Life" is a staple of your holiday season, allow CATCO to present it to you from a new perspective. Joe Landry's adaptation of the film as "a live radio play" broadcast on Christmas Eve in 1946 both charms us with its nostalgic look back at the era of broadcast drama and reminds us of the story's underlying despair.

George Bailey dreamed big, but circumstances thwarted him time and again. Unable to escape from tiny Bedford Falls, he ends up living the life he'd tried to avoid. In the process, though, he touched so many lives that his little world would have been tragically altered had he never been born.

Landry tells the familiar story, but within the frame of a 1946 "Playhouse of the Air" program. This allows the five-member cast to dazzle us with the versatility of the human voice and challenges the audience to exercise its imaginations much as radio audiences once did.

Rick Clark evokes the spirit of Jimmy Stewart without quite impersonating him. Stanzi Davis, as Sally Applewhite playing George's wife Mary, concocts an uncanny blend of practicality and seduction. And Liam Cronin has astonishing conversations with himself as the villainous Mr. Potter and various others.

In all, this "Wonderful Life" is a living wonder of the vocal art.

It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

Through Dec. 18

Riffe Center Studio One Theatre

77 S. High St., Downtown