Thursday, December 25, 2014

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NY1 Theater Review: 'It's a Wonderful Life: The 1946 Live Radio Play'

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Off-Broadway's Irish Repertory Theatre is presenting a new look at a classic holiday film called "It's a Wonderful Life: The 1946 Live Radio Play." NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

New York has certainly seen its share of film-to-stage adaptations, and it seems everyone's getting into the act, even that off-Broadway stalwart, the Irish Rep. But instead of trying to reproduce "It's A Wonderful Life" on stage, the company turned the film classic into a radio play, and no matter how many times you've seen the movie, you're bound to get a renewed jolt of nostalgia for those quaintly endearing residents of Bedford Falls, N.Y.

Faithfully adapted by Anthony E. Palermo under Charlotte Moore's canny direction in the Rep's tiny basement space, "It's A Wonderful Life: The Live Radio Play" presents the story of George Bailey as a radio show in 1946. The actors carry scripts and play multiple roles distinguished by various hats and crude sound effects.

Affable George just can't seem to get a break. Eager to go to college and see the world, he's forced to stay home and run his father's savings and loan business. And just as life finally seems to go George's way with a marriage to his high school sweetheart, along with a big house and family, disaster strikes, and George decides to end it all. But then there's Clarence, the bumbling but wise angel, to save the day.

Veteran Peter Maloney is in fine character playing both Clarence and the miserly banker, Mr. Potter.

As George's wife Mary, Haley Bond is quite lovely.

Kristen Griffith has a blast playing the rest of the female parts, including little Zuzu.

Rory Duffy, the SFX artist, is quite literally a hoot.

And how nice to see longtime "Phantom" star Howard McGillin up close on the small stage, a complete natural in the iconic Jimmy Stewart role.

If it's the holiday spirit you're after and tired of all the hype this time of year, you can do no better than spending 70 wonderful minutes experiencing the delightful re-telling of Frank Capra's classic movie. ClientIP:,, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP