RadioCarla - Media... and Life Observer

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Drama" - Falcon Theater in Newport, KY

I must admit that I've been a bit remiss in my sampling of Cincinnati area theater since I moved here in 1998. I've seen several productions at UC's CCM and was even lucky enough to catch Shoshana Bean in both "Babes in Arms" and "Hot Mikado". You knew then she was going to be a star on Broadway. We also had subscriptions to Broadway in America's Cincinnati seasons for several years. Two favorites over the years were "Urinetown" and the Deaf West production of "Big River". But, the seasons started to include too many so-so revivals and too many non-Equity shows at Equity prices so we stopped going.



This past Thursday night, Tom and I were lucky enough to see the final dress rehearsal for the Falcon Theater's production of "It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Drama". As someone with a background in both theater and radio, I was very interested in seeing this production. The idea of transporting the audience back to a radio studio in late December of 1945 adds a very nice twist to this beloved story.

Since this is a radio production, the performers actually hold their scripts and often take on more than one part. My radio self smiled as they carefully held the scripts away from the mics and oh so gingerly turned each page. Also because this is a radio production, we get the joy of watching the sound effects being created by an excellent two-person team. There are jingle singers, an announcer and a program director who points out the APPLAUSE sign in case you missed it flashing.

As the lights go down, the wonderful story grabs your attention as it tells once again about the life of George Bailey and how one person can affect the lives of many others without even knowing it. All of the performers (except for the ones portraying George and Mary) played five or more characters which showcased their versatility. Lisa D. Dirkes (Cousin Tilly, Violet, Mrs. Hatch, Worried Woman, Bank Teller, Zuzu Bailey) and Peter Weiglin (Clarence, Harry Bailey, Potter, Ernie, Mr. Welch, Eustace, Randall) were especially good in their multiple roles.

Even with two intermissions, this lively show keeps you in the moment and eager for the next scene. The enactment of live radio production is spot on. In fact, the only thing missing was the smoking. As late as the 1990s, smoking in radio studios was still allowed. Some of the performers did do some business with an unlit cigarette as if they were anxious for the next break so they could get their next smoke in.

All in all, our first experience enjoying one of the many great theater companies in the area was a definite success. It was wonderful to get in the holiday spirit and I look forward to seeing more Falcon Theater productions and sampling more local theater in general.

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Falcon Theatre presents

"It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Drama"
By Anthony E. Palermo

Directed by Ric Young, Produced by Ted Weil

Cast: Bill Keeton, Michael Potter, Caitlyn Allison, Lisa Dirkes,
Adrianne Underhill, Jim Waldfogle, Peter Weiglin, Beth Mizer,
Jenny Kessler, Amy Waldfogle, Carrie Mees, David Levy,
Judy Berrens & Amber Samblanet

Monmouth Theatre
636 Monmouth St.
Newport, KY 41071

Fri, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m.
Sat, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m.
Sun, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m.

Tickets: $15, $12 seniors and students

513-479-6783

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