Holiday classic movie creates excitement as live radio play at MET

wonderful-59Courtesy of Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre

Team KC actors Jordan Fox with Alan Tilson, and then turn Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre director Karen Paisley on the script; and, pull out your hanky as “It’s a Wonderful Life–A Live Radio Play” tugs at the heartstrings–just like the Jimmy Steward and Donna Reed movie version did in the Frank Capra comedy.

Great staging, immersion into the cozy setting, and outstanding action and sound make this a show packed full of family fun. This is the type of show that could become a family tradition for Christmas. “It’s a Wonderful Life–A Live Radio Play” just screams family tradition. The show closed Dec. 11 to a jam=packed house. Most likely other performances sold out as well. A standing ovation displayed the audience’s appreciation of the entire production.

wonderful-71Courtesy of Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre

Actors enter from the back of the audience section and immediately start interacting with the viewers. That piece alone creates a sense of being in a live show. The interaction draws the audience into the show, creating a cozy, intimate atmosphere. As the piano player plays some background music, the announcer introduces the cast as the characters they are portraying and gives brief resumes of their past performances. “It’s a Wonderful Life” maintains the texture of a radio play from the get-go. Wonderful staging, great sound props, and a simulation of a radio broadcast help immerse the audience into the storyline.

“It’s a Wonderful Life–A Live Radio Play is based on the film from 1946 by famous comedy director, Frank Caprs. The movie was adapted for the stage by Joe Landry. To compliment the stage version, piano accompaniment comes from Brian Mitchell Bates.

wonderful-123bCourtesy of Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre

Most know the story, just like “A Christmas Carol.” But, seeing the show as a radio play provides an intimacy and texture one does not get from a flat movie or TV screen. The MET’s live action slowly pulls the audience inton the production before them. The interaction of the audience and actors tugs at the emotions and eyes do tear up at the tender moments and the climax.

Only an exquisite cast can pull this play off in a manner that involves the audience so intently. The play runs 90 minutes with no intermission, so there is not stopping once it starts rolling. Again, director Karen Paisley knows how to build the emotional charge of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

wonderful-47Bob Evans

Acting standouts, Fox and Tilson receive great support from the entire cast. Bob Paisley and Charles Pulliam deliver stage-strong characters. They make their characters touching and harsh, respectively. Pulliam is a mean villain while Paisley is a likeable drunk and the mishap uncle who loses the $8,000. Both are fun to watch work. Fox’s intervention with his wife and children is strong and steady. Tilson’s angel who just can’t seem to earn his stature, finally finds the way to earn his wings in a delightful performance.

The play stars Jordan Fox as George Bailey and Alan Tilson as Clarence the angel who still has not earned his wings and remains an angel second class. The balance of the ensemble cast is: Reese Betts, Brad Dawty, Jordan Haas, Ethan Miller, Charles Pulliam, Cindy Seifers, Cori Anne Weber, Breena Bridge, Salem Deel, Brie Henderson, Bob Paisley, Rebecca Ralstin, Charlie Weber.

14976640_10154168671888022_6883238517548039054_oCourtesy of Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre

The production team is: Leo Mauler, stage manager; Sean Walden, sound operator; Marc Manley, props manager.
Tags: Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, “It’s a Wonderful Life–A Radio Play”, Theater, Preforming Arts, Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City, Kansas City Theater, Comedy


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