Tuesday, December 15, 2015

review - IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY - Arizona Broadway Theatre

Tim Shawver, Timothy Pittman, Katie Larson, Traci McCormick,
Marshall Glass, and Devon Nickel
photo: Kat Barnes
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through December 24th.

 " The idea of turning the classic film It's a Wonderful Life into a successful theatrical production seems like a destiny for failure. How can you take the heartfelt performance of Jimmy Stewart and the stellar direction of Frank Capra, both of whom were nominated for Academy Awards, and make this story succeed on stage? Turns out you can make it work if you think outside the box, and that is exactly what playwright Joe Landry did when he turned this classic story of love and redemption into a "live" 1940s radio drama. With a talented cast and sure-footed direction, Arizona Broadway Theatre's production of this well-known story soars. In Lawry's 1996 stage adaptation of the 1946 Capra movie the film becomes a radio drama...The cast of six take turns speaking into the microphones, with scripts in their hands, as they portray the dozens of characters in this beloved story of George Bailey, the idealistic and self-sacrificing man, and Clarence the angel who comes to George's rescue one Christmas Eve when he considers ending his life....With just one very small exception, Tim Shawver's direction is flawless in how he achieves an abundance of superb performances from his small cast that are an homage to the film actors' portrayals of these characters while also conveying original touches to each part. Marshall Glass brings a lovely sincerity to George. ...As Mary, the woman George is in love with, Katie Larson is warm and engaging..Timothy Pittman brings an abundance of joy and a sense of playfulness to Clarence while Traci McCormick is appropriately flirty as Violet, the small town girl with big town dreams. ...Shawver portrays numerous parts including Potter, the antagonist of the plot, and George's simpleton Uncle Billy, both of which he plays skillfully. ...Devon Nickel is the young, newbie sound effects guy who also plays a few small parts in the radio drama. ...The character is also somewhat over eager with occasional sound effects mix-ups bringing an added comical touch to the evening. My only complaint is that one of these moments happens in a very dramatic point in the story, and goes on for too long, thus downplaying the effect of that scene. Landry's idea of turning this classic tale into a radio play makes for a fresh and inventive way of reconnecting with the classic story of love and redemption. ABT's cast does an excellent job of bringing these memorable characters to life. The end result is a holiday treat for fans of the film, those who have yet to discover the movie's joys, and also anyone who likes to experience different types of theatrical endeavors."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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