Mack and I watched Teatro la Quindicina’s live radio version of It’s a Wonderful Life this afternoon at the Varscona. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but guessed that it would be a sort of hybrid of the stage reading style of Urban Tales and David Belke’s radio serial at the Fringe I saw a few years ago.
Lucky for us, it was even better than Belke’s radio serial, with the 50s-style costumes worn by the actors setting the tone immediately. The light-up on the air/applause sign for radio WTLQ and retro microphones were also a nice touch.
The talented cast, which included our favourites Jeff Haslam (as George Bailey) and Davina Stewart (as Mary Bailey) transported us to Bedford Falls, a community-minded town peppered with characters. The story, a familiar tale of finding what’s most important in life – family, friends and integrity – is always a comfort at Christmastime, a good reminder to be thankful and appreciate life as it is.
The music and sound effects helped enhance the experience, pushing our mind’s eye to picture everything from the Baileys’ residence to the fateful bridge where George contemplates ending his life. Cathy Derkach provided a wonderful musical soundtrack throughout, and Kendra Connor’s work as the foley artist was great, as she had to balance a table bursting with sound props (the use of a box of corn starch to mimic steps in the snow was ingenious).
The show even included two “commercial breaks” with cheeky advertisements of Teatro’s 2010 season and Irmengarde’s New Years’s Wrap Up on December 31. Mack especially liked the Teatro jingle.
All and all, it was a great matinee to be a part of. Unfortunately, It’s a Wonderful Life had a limited engagement of three shows, with the last one finishing up on stage as I write this. To tide you over until next year though, check out this hilarious clip of It’s a Wonderful Life in 30 seconds (and re-enacted by bunnies).