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Radio play version of 'It's a Wonderful Life' at TheatreWorks

November 29, 2013 Updated: December 3, 2013 at 9:01 am
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photo - John DiAntonio and Becca Vourvoulas star in "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" by TheatreWorks.
John DiAntonio and Becca Vourvoulas star in "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" by TheatreWorks. 

"It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play," opens Thursday, runs 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Dec. 14 and 21, 4 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 22, TheatreWorks, Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 3955 Regent Circle, $15-$35, free UCCS students, no kids under 5; 255-3232, theatreworkscs.org.

Something else: First Friday Talkback with actors and director Geoffrey Kent, Dec. 6; First Saturday Gala with free drinks and snacks, Dec. 7; Prologue Lecture with National Public Radio's Scott Simon, 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8.

If you can recite every line of the 1946 holiday classic, "It's a Wonderful Life," it's time to break out of the box.

Instead of pulling out the old DVD starring James Stewart, head to TheatreWorks for a staged reading with sound effects, a la a live 1940s radio show.

Five actors and a sound man will portray multiple roles, though John DiAntonio, who plays George Bailey, only plays the one role. DiAntonio has seen the movie every Christmas for 20 or 30 years, he says.

"It's the same old story, but a brand new way of looking at it and hearing it," DiAntonio says of the stage show, adding that he has no intention of channeling Stewart.

"If I try to do Jimmy Stewart, it's just asking for trouble."

Doing a radio show poses a different challenge to its actors and director than a regular stage show, director Geoffrey Kent says.

"They hold their pages and lean right and left," Kent says, describing actors playing multiple roles. "You get that joy of seeing what goes on in a 1946 radio story, while being told the 'It's a Wonderful Life' story. You get to see all the tricks, and there's the humor and magic of old-time radio."

It won't be a send-up of the classic film, Kent says, not like WYNOT Radio Theatre that just produced the "The Short Hello" at the Fine Arts Center, which poked fun at classic films "Casablanca" and "Key Largo."

"We hold it up a little more traditionally," he says. "The subject matter is a little more revered. You don't want to make fun of a production of 'Wonderful Life,' unless you want the audience coming after you with a pitchfork."

Jennifer Mulson, jen.mulson@gazette.com, 636-0270

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