“I feel we have a successful show if the audience leaves happy and uplifted, if the cast is happy and proud and exhausted, and if the crew is smiling and laughing when we are cleaning up,” Lori Carmine, director of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” said.
“It’s always better to have a full house, but I wouldn’t say that is the only barometer of a successful show.”
NextMedia Radio will present the live radio broadcast and theater performance of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Dec. 13 at Rialto Square Theatre. This is the eighth year that the show is being presented.
The play is inspired by the 1946 holiday film classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which starred James Stewart and Donna Reed. The annual live radio broadcast and theater performance at the Rialto will be broadcast live on WJOL AM 1340.
The show is presented as if it were a live radio play in the 1940s. The actors interact with each other as they speak into the microphones.
There is an announcer who introduces the show, and just as in the old radio plays, the sound effects are created on stage.
“Audience participation is extremely important,” Carmine said. “Performers feed off of their energy to fuel the show. I imagine that’s why the old radio shows would bring in an audience to their studios. Not to mention the crowd scenes. A thousand people make a run on the bank a lot more intense than say — two people.”
In this year’s presentation, several actors and actresses will be reprising their roles in the show including husband-and-wife actors Kevin and Christine Haines, who will portray George and Mary Bailey, and Scott Slocum from WJOL AM 1340 as Mr. Potter. Having returning performers puts Carmine more at ease.
“Kevin and Christine are returning again as George and Mary,” Carmine said. “They are professionals. I do not worry about them. This show is as important to them as it is to me. They put their heart into every line.”
Although this the fifth year that Carmine is directing the show, she still finds opportunities to make the presentation better.
“I am always tweaking,” she said. “We tweak the script, the set, the props, the crew, the times. I believe it was Laurence Olivier that said, ‘The day I stop learning, is the day I stop performing.’ I believe it’s the same with this show.”