The folks at the Cambria Center for the Arts have cooked up a creative treat this holiday season, and it’s free.
In 2011, Rick Auricchio came up with the idea of staging a radio broadcast of the 1946 classic holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring James Stewart, as first adapted for radio on “Lux Radio Theater” the following year.
The production is based on the Philip Van Doren Stern short story “The Greatest Gift,” which he wrote in 1939. The story focuses on the life of George Bailey, played by Stewart in the film, who is driven by circumstance and despair to the point of suicide when his guardian angel, Clarence, intervenes to show him what the world might have been like if he’d never been born.
Allied Arts is presenting its fifth annual Christmas Gift to the Cambria Community as a way of thanking residents for their support of visual and performing arts at Cambria Center for the Arts.
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Auricchio directed the production the first three years, with Nancy Green taking the reins last year and again this year.
This is a wonderful opportunity for those who have never ‘seen’ a radio show.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for those who have never ‘seen’ a radio show,” said Barbara Beane of Allied Arts. “The multiple parts played by a few actors changing their voices to fit the character and the sound effects are fun to watch — live.”
You’ll be able to see the actors gathered around microphones and witness how various sound effects were created to simulate such things as footsteps, creaking doors, breaking glass, splashing water and jingling bells. For those who don’t remember the era when radio was the dominant form of entertainment, it will be an enlightening and enjoyable experience.
Randy Schwalbe and Helene Hansen are in charge of the sound effects.
Zack Lyons will be playing George in this year’s production, with Wendy Lyons playing his wife, Mary (the part played by Donna Reed in the film), and Randall Lyon playing Clarence.
Rick Bruce will also play multiple parts.
Other actors for this year’s show are Beane, Oz Barron, Tim Crowley and Michael Shanley. All are Cambria residents except for Crowley, who’s from Morro Bay. Beane, Barron and Lyon all took part in last year’s production.
“The cast has gone through one ‘read through,’ and we will be having two more rehearsals,” Beane said via email Dec. 3. “We’re all having a good time dressing in period clothing. Some of the cast have been in past productions, but the newer actors are members of the Cambria Toastmasters, i.e. Zack Lyons, Wendy Lyons — mother and son — and Tim Crowley.”
The film, directed by Frank Capra, failed to recoup its production costs during its initial release but has since become a Christmastime classic that’s shown frequently — in both its original black-and-white form and a colorized version — during the holiday season. It was nominated for Best Picture and four other Academy Awards (including James Stewart for Best Actor) and has been named by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made.