ANCHORAGE - Cyrano’s Playhouse has revived its Christmas season hit from last year, '”It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.”
Here’s a look at how the theatrical company, under the direction of Elizabeth Ware, brought the story from the classic holiday film to the stage.
It’s Manhattan, Christmas Eve, 1946, and radio station WBFR is performing live for a studio audience and a national broadcast audience.
That’s the set-up, and five actors perform all of the roles from the famous movie.
"But it's also a wonderful challenge for the actors, because they do have to distinguish between, in some cases, I think 12 characters,” Ware said. “Mark Robokoff and Dean Williams both apiece both play 12 different characters. And sometimes they're talking to themselves at the mic."
And it's not just about the acting. The actors are responsible for numerous sound effects. "So when they're not at the mike being Mr. Potter or Clarence the angel, they're back there making a sound effect," Ware said.
And you can forget about Jimmy Stewart.
Ware told her cast she didn't want any impersonations of actors from the movie.
"And she said she would much rather we find the characters on our own, through the script,” said Jamie Nelson, who plays George Bailey, Stewart’s role. “So that was much easier for me to embrace. I really enjoy doing character work and finding those moments and beats and arcs on my own, and then have the director be able to help you refine those and find them. It feels much more original that way and a lot more heartfelt."
And just like classic radio shows, there are commercials, such as for a dandruff shampoo.
Ware says this might not be the last time Cyrano’s tells the story of George Bailey discovering what Bedford Falls would have been like without him.
"Let's say we've brought it back by popular demand. It might become Cyrano’s 'Nutcracker' -- we'll see -- or 'Christmas Carol.'"
The formal opening is Friday night at 7, with a reception following.
The play runs through December 23 at Cyrano’s, and will be performed a few times on the Kenai Peninsula after Christmas.
To see web-extra interviews with Ware and Nelson, click here.