Wheaton Drama will tap into the holiday nostalgic feeling by presenting the classic show, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and doing via a staged radio show.
“It’s as if the audience is attending a radio show in 1948,” said director Sean Ogren of the production.
“Everyone will have on 1940s attire. We have two sound technicians. It’s a look at radio in the 1940s. It’s almost like live radio. We will have things like an ‘On Air’ sign, although we are not really on the air.”
Wheaton Drama will present “It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show” from Dec. 12-15 at Wheaton Drama Playhouse in Wheaton.
“It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show” is inspired by the 1946 holiday film classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which starred James Stewart and Donna Reed and was directed by Frank Capra. In this radio play adaptation by Tony Palermo, patrons become a part of the studio audience and relive the story of regret and redemption told through familiar characters, sound effects and musical commercial breaks.
The commercial breaks in the radio play format are where three singers (known as the Jingle Sisters), accompanied by a keyboardist, will have the opportunity to perform specially-written jingles.
The show, which also was presented at Wheaton Drama last year and was directed by Ogren, is a fundraiser for the theater group.
“All of the radio ads are for local companies,” Ogren said. “For example, we have an ad for the Downtown Wheaton Association. They bought an ad to be in the show. We write the jingles and the ads. I collaborate with Kathleen Dooley. This year we have five shows, three ads per show, so a total of 15 ads.”
Because the show is sandwiched between the closing of Wheaton Drama’s presentation of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and Christmas, the cast had only a few days of rehearsal.
“But it’s a radio show, so there is no blocking and no memorization of lines,” Ogren said. “Last year we had two weeks of rehearsal. We worked out a lot of the ideas last year.”
Ogren is pleased to be at the helm of the holiday show.
“I’m a huge Frank Capra fan,” he said. “Capra was never afraid of sentimentality. He tapped into who we are as people. He showed all sides of people and that we have sentiment and that we do want to care about each other. It is nice to see someone who champions that.”