Combining the story of the classic Jimmy Stewart holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life with the daily shenanigans of a local radio station, It’s a Wonderful Life features fine acting and directing as it celebrates the holiday season.
Los Angeles’ radio station KAWL suffers from declining ratings and falling revenues. The live on-air performance of It’s a Wonderful Life could be its last. Can station manager Michael (Jim Martyka) corral his restless troops to finish the production and save the day?
Director Erin Scott does an excellent job creating the authentic craziness of a live radio performance, presenting energetic goings-on behind the scenes. She keeps the humor and the action flowing as the story unspools in real time.
Martyka himself acts as the glue holding the show together, giving an expressive performance as the harried station manager while also providing emotional depth to George Bailey. Other standouts include Lee Pollero with his many accents, Jacob Smith as a shrinking wandering soul giving voice to the angel Clarence, Clayton Meeks adding a dash of panache to Joseph and Mr. Potter, and Dain August as the easygoing, comfortable janitor Horace.
Understated set design is enhanced by vintage looking microphones and stands and pleasing Christmas decorations. The costumes come close to replicating fashion, circa 1950.
While a little long and occasionally verbose, It’s a Wonderful Life provides laughs and fun entertainment as it demonstrates that the richness of man comes from his generosity, kindness, and love of family and friends.
Theatre Unleashed presents It’s a Wonderful Life Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Dec. 15 at the Missing Piece Theatre located at 2811 W. Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank. Tickets cost $25, or give a present for Toys for Tots and pay what you want. Call (818) 849-4039 to make reservations, or visit theatreunleashed.com for further information.