Executive and Artistic Director Keith Gerth and Associate Artistic Director Stephen Smith announce Oil Lamp Theater’s 2018 holiday show, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry. This special presentation, directed by Keith Gerth, will be performed from November 29 through December 30, 2018 – with extra Saturday matinees and Sunday evening performances added -- at 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview.
It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play has become a holiday tradition at Oil Lamp – a tradition that audiences embrace enthusiastically as they’re swept up in the magic and whimsy of this timeless classic. Only seven actors bring the dozens of characters to life in a 1946 radio play -- complete with sound effects – that tells the story of George Bailey, a young man whose troubles lead him to wish he’d never been born. He is visited by the angel Clarence who comes to earth on Christmas Eve to help George realize how many lives he has touched, just how blessed he has been, and how different the world would be if he’d never been there.
Oil Lamp Executive Director Keith Gerth again transforms the intimate Glenview theater space into the studio of New York radio station WBFR on Christmas Eve in 1946 for this warmhearted adaptation of the famous Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed film. But at Oil Lamp Theater, the magic isn’t only on the stage! Audiences will be captured by the tinsel-and-holly enchantment of a traditional Christmas from the moment they enter the theater. The tree is up in the lobby, holiday music is playing, a miniature train is chugging away… and of course, complimentary cookies, nuts, candy and hot chocolate are available for all!
This year’s Wonderful Life production – Oil Lamp’s seventh since the theater opened in Glenview – features Gabe Fries and Chelsea Rolfes as George and Mary Bailey. Tim Kough appears as the enthusiastic host and announcer for WBFR’s “Playhouse of the Air.” Tim also plays the villainous old miser Mr. Potter and other residents of Bedford Falls. Stephen Smith, another Wonderful Life veteran, returns as a variety of characters including George’s forgetful brother Billy, Mr. Gower the druggist, Ernie the cop, and more. Rachel Whyte and Travis Monroe Neese also bring to life several roles in the radio drama. Whyte lends her versatile voice and acting skills to every other female character in the show, ranging from a small child to the town siren. Neese portrays the saving angel Clarence, George’s brother Harry Bailey, Sam Wainwright, and others.
Rounding out the cast is sound effects artist Alecia Pagnotta, who plays the sound engineer at WBFR. Pagnotta is entrusted with all the audio magic for this radio play. She adds a vital dimension to the show, using clever and surprising techniques to simulate ringing telephones, footsteps in the snow, breaking glass, chirping crickets, and much more – all performed live in front of the studio audience!.
This radio play of Wonderful Life closely follows the plot of the 1946 Frank Capra film. However, audience members experience the story through the unique lens of a live “golden age of radio” studio production, complete with flashing “applause” signs, Christmas carol sing-alongs, and clever commercial jingles performed by the cast.
But the opportunities to interact with the Wonderful Life experience don’t end there! Every audience will also have the chance to write and send personalized “radiograms” to friends, family and loved ones listening at home (or in the theater), courtesy of the WBFR airwaves! Studio guests will have the opportunity to fill out a “Radiogram” message sheet before each show, and then hear that message read “live” by the WBFR announcer, from the stage during the show!
Here are just a few comments from Oil Lamp guests who have been a part of the Wonderful Life experience in years past:
“(The theater is) a lovely, intimate and warm setting for this holiday classic. Before the show sip hot cocoa, enjoy snicker-doodle cookies, watch a toy train and marvel at all the beautiful Christmas decorations. And this is before the show even starts! After the pre-show revelry it is time to sit down and watch a touching production of a 1940's era live radio play of It's a Wonderful Life and the fine production that it is.”
“What a delightful way to start the holiday season! The play was charming--filled with incredibly talented actors. And the lobby--Well, if that doesn't get you into the holiday spirit, nothing will! There is a beautiful Christmas tree with bubbling lights, a train running around the entire bar area and complimentary Christmas cookies, hot chocolate and bowls of nuts and candy. Don't miss this performance!”
“The theater is a delight. Everyone is personally welcomed in a homey setting. Actors all were excellent and watching sound effects for this play was fun, too!”
Joe Landry (Playwright) grew up with a love for both classic film and theater. Encouraged by his parents, Joe began working at various theaters near his Connecticut home. In 1995, He founded Second Guess Theatre Company, which produced over two dozen new plays, adaptations and revivals. It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play premiered in Stamford, Connecticut in 1997 and has enjoyed numerous productions around the country ever since. Other plays by Landry include Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play and an adaptation of the cult classic Reefer Madness. Other projects include Mothers and Sons, a musical co-written with Kevin Connors and Lifeboat, Dahling! with Bert Bernardi. For more information, see www.joelandry.com.
Performances of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play are Thursdays through Sundays, with evening performances at 8:00pm and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00pm. Tickets are $40 and include complimentary cookies and hot chocolate. Oil Lamp Theater is BYOB with complimentary corkage and glasses. The complete performance schedule and tickets are available at 847-834-0738 or online at oillamptheater.org. Group and student rates are available.
Oil Lamp Theater is located in downtown Glenview, Illinois, at 1723 Glenview Road. Free parking lots are available immediately west of the theater and across the street. Street parking is also available throughout downtown Glenview. Handicap parking is available adjacent to the theater.
The theater may be reached by car (approximately one mile west of I-94) or by Metra (three blocks east of Milwaukee District/North – Glenview Station). For more information on traveling to Oil Lamp Theater, visit oillamptheater.org/plan-visit.
Title: It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
By: Joe Landry
Dates: First performance, community night and press opening: Thursday, November 29, 8:00pm
Closing performance: Sunday, December 30, 3:00pm
Schedule: Thursdays through Sundays. Evening performances at 8:00pm, Saturday and Sunday matinees
Location: Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview
Prices: All performances $40
Group and student rates are available
Box Office: 847-834-0738; oillamptheater.org
ABOUT OIL LAMP THEATER
Over the past twelve years, Oil Lamp Theater has been dedicated to the presentation of traditional theater in an immersive, intimate setting. Under the executive and artistic leadership of Keith Gerth, Oil Lamp Theater has welcomed more than 50,000 guests into its unique, inviting venues. In March, 2012, Oil Lamp Theater was incorporated at a not-for-profit theater and established its current 60-seat location in downtown Glenview. The professional company performs plays that present and appeal to core American traditional values relevant to current issues. Oil Lamp Theater welcomes patrons as family, encouraging a personal atmosphere and artist interactions to emphasize human emotional connections.
Find Oil Lamp Theater on Facebook or follow @OilLampTheater on Twitter. For more information, visit oillamptheater.org.
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