It’s a wonderful production of a holiday-themed classic

Although some claim to watch Frank Capra’s 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life” midyear, most fans welcome it as a holiday-themed classic. The movie’s story of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) suddenly unable to support his family and considering drastic options resonates with people in all walks of life. Delightfully, George’s guardian angel (Henry Travers) needs to earn his wings and comes to his rescue. The story is so popular, the Cygnet Theatre Company is performing its fourth annual production of “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” in its new theater in Old Town, through Dec. 27.

Director Sean Murray said audience response to the atypical show continues to surprise him.

“I think that’s because it allows the audience to use their imaginations, and this makes them feel like part of the show,” he said.

The plot unfolds on a 1940s play being broadcast over the radio. The audience sees characters at a microphone rather than in front of an elaborate set. Every year, there are slight changes to the show.

This year’s show features many returning actors and some new performers. Tom Andrew is back as George Bailey. He received a 2008 San Diego Critic’s Circle Award for his performance.

Scott Paulson handles the old-fashioned Foley sound effects orchestra. Jonathan Dunn-Rankin returns as Mr. Potter. Veronica Murphy plays Ma Bailey, David McBean is Harry Bailey, and Tim West appears as Clarence the Angel. Melissa Fernandes returns as Violet Bick, and Amanda Sitton joins the cast as Mary Hatch.

As each actor steps back to Dec. 24, 1946, at WCYG Radio, it’s clear a show of this nature must rely on its cast to produce the desired effects.

“Every time this group performs, it’s from the heart,” Murray said. “They really commit themselves to telling the story without any sense of parody, and I think the cast brings an amazing emotional honesty to the work.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life” has stood the test of time. The situations George Bailey frets over are the same concerns people are facing today. Likewise, the same optimism Clarence brought to Bedford Falls might be just around the corner, too.

“That’s true,” Murray said. “The back story deals with George’s bank going broke. Mr. Potter believes it’s every man for himself. And the scene about people losing their homes, jobs and money in the bank are things we relate to today.”

The Cygnet team wants families to celebrate the holiday together and is offering a free child’s ticket with every adult ticket bought.

“Kids love this play,” Murray said. “Because all the little gadgets and toys used to create the sound effects fascinate them, and they are prone to using their imaginations.”

Andrew said he returns each year to play George because he used to watch the movie when he was younger and found that many of the stage productions lacked heart.

“Jimmy Stewart was an amazing man, and this was one of his best roles,” Andrew said. “It’s a gift to do it. Even patrons who don’t like the movie, love it.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” adapted by Joe Landry with piano accompaniment and musical direction provided by Amy Dalton, is about as close to Bedford Falls as one can get.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’
When: Through Dec. 27
Where: Cygnet Theatre Company, Old Town Stage, 4040 Twiggs St., San Diego
Tickets: $17-$46
(619) 337-1525

Related posts:

  1. Playhouse opens next Page to Stage production
  2. Craig Noel Awards honor 2008′s best stage work
  3. Television production explores Del Mar’s celebrity past
  4. Hollywood-themed gala supports Boys & Girls Clubs
  5. ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Rep ushers in the holiday spirit

Short URL:

Posted by geseanari on Dec 10, 2009. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6





  • Alumni and Advancement Center named for longtime supporters Larry and Cindy Bloch of Rancho Santa Fe
    The University of Rochester’s Alumni and Advancement Center in Rochester, N.Y. has been renamed the Larry and Cindy Bloch Alumni and Advancement Center in recognition of the couple’s support of the university and, in particular, its Advancement programs. In a ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 15, UR President Joel Seligman formally dedicated the center in honor of […]
  • RSF Association Board Biz: It’s fire season: Be prepared
    The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District (RSFFPD) was officially formed in 1946, in the aftermath of a devastating fire that took place in 1943 and destroyed brush, farmland and homes from Rancho Bernardo through Rancho Santa Fe, all the way to Solana Beach and Del Mar. Today the Fire District spans 38 square miles and protects nearly 30,000 residents. W […]
  • Rancho Santa Fe couple lead way in helping those with thyroid disorders
    Few people may know that Graves’ disease is one of the most common autoimmune diseases afflicting Americans today. Fewer still may know that the only national non-profit dedicated to its patients is headquartered in Rancho Santa Fe. The Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation, co-chaired by Rancho Santa Fe residents Kathleen Bell Flynn and Steve Flynn, has be […]