America’s beloved holiday classic is reinvented as a radio play within a play
Playwright John Wolbers’ fresh adaptation, in a production directed by Julia Flood, introduces a new generation to the favorite holiday tale
Metro Theater Company (MTC) presents It’s a Wonderful Life at the Grandel Theatre in the Grand Center Arts District, November 17 - December 15. The beloved American holiday classic leaps to captivating life on stage in this heartwarming, enchanting adaptation by St. Louis playwright John Wolbers.
Wolbers’ It’s a Wonderful Life has a clever twist: the story is staged as a play within a play, more specifically a 1940s radio broadcast within a play.
Complete with microphones, live sound effects by a Foley artist, 1940s period costumes and a diverse company of characters, the adaptation charmingly tells the story of George Bailey and the town of Bedford Falls and brilliantly touches on all the fascinating character backstories. The play also illuminates the powerful, life-affirming message that one life can change the whole fabric of a community.
Set in a radio station, KMTC Radio St. Louis, on Christmas Eve 1949, the cast transforms from their radio station staff characters into multiple characters from Bedford Falls as they live broadcast It’s a Wonderful Life.
The witty, heartwarming script includes references to St. Louis favorites such as Forest Park, and the cast even sings “Meet Me in St. Louis.” It also includes some audience participation, with the real audience (at The Grandel) serving as the play’s live studio audience, clapping every time the light-up applause sign activates.
Metro Theater Company commissioned this new adaptation, which not only brings audiences back to the golden age of radio, a time when radios were considered a household necessity and families gathered around them for news and entertainment, but it is also appeals to young and old alike. From the humor to the characters to the play’s duration of 50 minutes, It’s a Wonderful Life ushers in a new generation of fans and allows older audiences to introduce the holiday mainstay to their children and grandchildren.
“I am delighted to bring this holiday classic for the whole family to the Grandel stage,” said Julia Flood, artistic director at Metro Theater Company. “This fresh take on the story is deeply rooted in bringing community together and will be magic in the hands of this talented ensemble of actors.”
Metro Theater Company Artistic Director Julia Flood directs It’s a Wonderful Life. The seven-member cast portrays multiple characters. The cast includes Carl Overly, Jr.; Chris E. Ware; Roxane McWilliams; Alicia Revé Like; Nicole Angeli; Mindy Shaw; and Abraham Shaw.