VOL. 25 - NO. 31
AUG 2 - 9, 2020
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OAKLAND, CA 94661-0283

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TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: Contra Costa Civic Theater’s Version of “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” Shares a Timeless Message

Dec 06, 2019
by Jan Miller
Contra Costa Civic Theatre’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” currently performing through December 15 in El Cerrito, CA. (951 Pomona Avenue), tells this classic Christmas tale in a new, engaging way with a comedic tinge.

The production, adapted by Joe Landry, is presented as if audience members are witnessing these actors record a live radio broadcast adaptation of the film in Manhattan on Christmas Eve, and it is quite captivating to see this classic story shown in such a way. The comedy influence comes in the form of a play-within-a-play framed like this: a group of radio voice actors in the late 1940s tell the story of George Bailey – owner of Bailey Brothers’ Building and Loan, and a longtime rival of banker Henry F. Potter in the fictional town of Bedford Falls, New York, who had set aside his dreams in order to help others, and whose decision to take his own life to avoid his problems on Christmas Eve brought about the intervention of Clarence Odbody, his guardian angel (aka ‘ASC’, Angel Second Class). Clarence shows George the many lives he had affected and how different life would be had he never been born.

The show takes place in an imaginary radio studio A, complete with “applause” and “on air” signs, on Christmas Eve 1946. As an audience member, you “are there” as part of the radio audience.

The fantastic cast of this show includes Peter Marietta as Jake Laurents, Kendall Tieck as Freddie Filmore, Keith Jefferds as Harry "Jazzbo" Heywood, Merrill Grant as Sally Applewhite, and Kim Donovan as Lana Sherwood. This show is especially unique because although these actors are portraying their own individual characters, they're also acting as multiple characters within their ‘radio broadcast’ of “It's A Wonderful Life.”

It is so apparent that this entire cast had a lot of work to do preparing for this production, and their execution is incredibly impressive. They create all of the sound effects and switch between characters flawlessly, including using different accents and movements while using a variety of costume pieces and props.

If you're looking for a fun, entertaining stage production to enjoy this holiday season, I highly recommend seeing CCCT’s excellent production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”. It puts a unique spin on a Christmas story many people know and love, and for those who aren't familiar with the film, this is a great way to hear the story through a very well done on-stage version.

Running time is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, including one intermission. For tickets or more information please visit ccct@ccct.org or phone (510) 524-9012.

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Photo caption: Keith Jefferds, Merrill Grant, Kendall Tieck, Peter Marietta and Kim Donovan are the featured performers in CCCT’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.”


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