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Live Radio Drama on Stage for the Holidays

It's a Wonderful Life at University of Tennessee

It's a Wonderful Life at University of Tennessee

During the winter holidays there’s an increased amount of nostalgia for radio drama. A number of theater groups and music groups are doing special radio-themed performances in the coming weeks all over the United States, many of which are adaptions of the holiday favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Our friends at Seattle Radio Theater have been doing radio drama productions for 12 years and they kicked off this year’s holiday season on December 4th with a live show and radio broadcast over KPTK-AM of “Miracle on 34th Street.” A high school production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” was also simulcast on radio station KVRF in Alaska.

Here’s a short list of some options for live radio drama fans:

Knoxville, Tennessee: “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” will be performed at the Carousel Theater through December 18. According to the theater’s website, “the play is performed as a 1940s live radio broadcast in front of a studio audience. Five actors perform the dozens of characters, produce the sound effects and break for commercial. Live and On the Air!” College radio station WUTK interviewed one of the show’s actors and the audio from this show can be heard here.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa: “Radio Holly-Days” will take audience members back to the 1940s, with a production that re-creates an old-time radio show, including music, commercials and skits representative of the era. The collaboration between Orchestra Iowa and Five by Design is a special show for the holidays and it will also feature a number of Christmas-themed music. The shows will take place this weekend, on December 17 and December 18, 2011 at Sinclair Auditorium.

Carlsbad, California: “A Christmas Carol, The Radio Show” is a one-man show premiering tomorrow and running through December 18 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre. According to an article in The North County Times, “The story supposes that when the sound-effects man for a 1940s radio production of “A Christmas Carol” shows up for work, everyone else on the show —- cast, musicians and crew —- doesn’t show up. This means he must perform the show in its entirety by himself, playing all of the characters and supplying all of the songs and special effects.”

Perrysburg, Ohio: Another version of It’s a Wonderful Life will be performed this Wednesday, December 14th at Owens Community College. According to an article in the Toledo Blade, “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live from WVL Radio Theater” will include a set that “…will be transformed into a 1940s radio studio. The actors will dress in period clothing and share a microphone. The ‘On Air’ sign will light and the audience will see how the technicians created the sounds of clip-clopping horses, slamming doors, booming thunder, and crackling lightning.”

Novi, Michigan: Yet another production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” is taking place at the Andiamo Novi Theater through January 15, 2012. A reviewer described his trepidation upon seeing a re-creation of a radio show, saying, “While I knew we were in for a show set on Dec. 24, 1946, actually watching a radio re-creation sounded as dull as watching a novelist clack away his keyboard. Surprise! The broadcast from the mythical Detroit station WAND Radio has a live studio audience – and we’re it!”

Additional productions of “It’s a Wonderful Life:

Concord, New Hampshire: It’s a Wonderful Life: Live from WVL Radio Theater” will take place on Tuesday, December 20 at the Capitol Center for the Arts.

Hoboken, New Jersey: Mile Square Theatre’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” runs through December 18 at Monroe Theatrespace.

Ithaca, New York: “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” will be performed at the Hangar Theatre through December 16.

Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts: The Vineyard Playhouse will be doing their version of “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play” on December 17 and December 18 at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

Evansville, Indiana: Evansville Civic Theatre’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: the Radio Play,” continues through December 18.

Boulder, Colorado: The Colorado Shakespeare Festival presents “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play” through December 24.

San Diego, California: Cygnet Theatre is wrapping up its 6-year tradition of performing “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” this year. Shows run through December 31.

Ojai, California: Ojai Arts Center is running a live radio show presentation “It’s a Wonderful Life” through December 17.

Fort Meyers, Florida: Florida Rep is doing “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” through December 18.

Statesboro, Georgia: Averitt Center for the Arts‘ production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” runs on Friday, December 16.



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One Response to Live Radio Drama on Stage for the Holidays

  1. jim dolan December 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Fans of old time radio drama should check out the radio theater channel @ for a full schedule of scheduled old time radio series with restored sound. It will really take you back to the days when the large console radio ruled the living room.

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