In 2014, when the Prairie Players launched an on-stage radio play (It’s a Wonderful Life), I wondered how on earth that might work. Did anyone really want to sit in an audience, listening to actors reading from scripts? Or would we sit in the dark, hearing voices over the speakers and imagining the rest, much like a real 1940’s radio audience would have? Either way, I feared the production might be a bust.
I worried for nothing. It was fantastic! An engaging story in every way.
So when I heard the group was staging another radio drama for this season, I relaxed. I’m not part of the production, but I sat in on a recent rehearsal so I could tell you about it. Let me assure you, you don’t want to miss it! If you’re not already in the Christmas spirit by then, you will be when you leave. Unless your heart is stone dead.
Directed by Rosa Albanese Rawlings, the play features Peggy Tidsbury as the radio announcer. Rumour has it Peggy basically wrote her own script, working in some clever advertising for our local sponsors. That in itself will keep you laughing.
The rest of this talented cast includes Maggie Davidson as Doris Walker; Fabien de Freitas as Fred Gailey and the postman; Haley L’Heureux as Susan Walker (close your eyes while she speaks, and you’ll swear she’s a real seven-year-old!); Barry Rud as Kris Kringle; and Terry Tully who portrays four characters: Mr. Shellhammer, Dr. Pierce, Judge Harper, and Charles Halloran.
Amber Blume, Rita Carignan, Betty-Jean Checkley, Wayne Loeppky, Fran Myles, Reid Noton, and Tyrone Taylor round out the cast.
One of the things making this play so fun is the excellent piano music provided live on stage by Stephanie Kauffman. By the end of the night, you may have heard snippets of every Christmas song ever written. Stephanie is also the play’s producer—because one job is never enough for that gal!
Based on the 1947 movie of the same name, this play is sure to delight you. It includes something for everyone: a blossoming romance, big business competition, and even court room drama. And most of all, the heartwarming lesson: “faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.”
While searching little-known trivia about this popular old movie, I learned the rivalry between Macy’s and Gimbel’s department stores was as real as depicted in the film. The two stores, just blocks from each other in New York City, competed fiercely for the same business. One reporter wrote that Macy’s closed for a half-day when the movie premiered so its 12,000 employees could see it first. It was released May 3, which is odd for a Christmas story nowadays.
The play alone will run on November 29 and 30 at 7:30 and tickets cost $15. If you prefer dinner theatre, you can attend on December 1 or 2 for $45. Catered by Café on Prince, those evenings begin with cocktails at 5:30, dinner at 6:30, and the play at 7:30. All events take place at the William Glesby Centre where you can buy your tickets in person or by calling 204-239-4848.