“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” opens Dec. 9

Get ready to go turn back the dial to the 1940s and tune in to “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” with the Cornell College Department of Theatre and Dance.

Cast from left to right: Delta McKenna, Aidan Hefner, Gillian Grochala, Faith Kimball, and Josie Wulf. (Photo credit:  Olivia Houchins-McCallum)
Cast from left to right: Delta McKenna, Aidan Hefner, Gillian Grochala, Faith Kimball, and Josie Wulf. (Photo credit: Olivia Houchins-McCallum)

Audiences can enjoy this holiday favorite, live and in person, on Cornell College’s Kimmel Theatre stage in Youngker Hall. While technology has changed, audiences who don’t wish to view the show in-person will also be able to stream the audio of the play online as if they were listening to a live radio broadcast.

“This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast complete with live foley sound effects,” said director of the show and Assistant Professor of Theatre Caroline Price. “With the help of an ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.”

Actors will be performing on stage with a set that takes audiences back to a New York City radio studio 75 years ago and will be wearing period costumes designed by Resident Designer Jenny Kelchen and senior Regen Kuker and crafted by students in Cornell’s Costume Studio. Those watching live or listening online will also hear foley sound work, which was how sound effects such as breaking ice or opening doors were created for radio shows.

“This production has allowed us to focus on voice acting and the creation of characters using just our voice,” Price said. “With the addition of live foley and a live ‘studio’ audience, the ensemble gets to experience first hand how to entertain in the world of radio. The cast and crew are embracing the energy and historical importance of entertaining over the air.”

The show has a cast of seven who will play several roles each and a student production team of five. Junior Delta McKenna, a double major in physics and theatre, plays George Bailey and says it’s been a wonderful experience working with the cast and crew.

“I’m so thankful we can all do theater in person again,” McKenna said. “I really want the audience to realize that they have an impact. That their life is important and big and, well, wonderful!”

The show runs Dec. 9–11 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. Cornell faculty, staff, and students get in for free, and general admission is $5. Audience members can reserve tickets using a Google form found at crnl.co/watch. People can register to receive free streaming information using the same form. 

The Cornell Box Office opens for this production on Dec. 1. People can also call (319.895.4293) or visit the box office Monday-Friday 3:15-5:15 p.m. after Dec. 1 and one hour before the show on performance days to get tickets.

The audience will be required to mask, but the cast will not. “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” is a PG-rated show in which sounds of physical violence are present and there are occurrences of suicide being considered and discussed.