Performance Dates: December 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 & 19, 2010
Caitlyn Rose Allison
Sheila Mudd Baker
Directed By Alicia Lewkowich
Performing this classic story as a radio drama gives us a wonderful opportunity to present you with an insider’s look into the amazing world of live radio. Radio dramas in the 1940s were performed in front of live audiences, so actors were in essence performing for two audiences: the one in the studio and the one at home. Actors had to be at the top of their game both in facial interactions (for those who could see) and vocal interactions (for those who couldn’t). Additionally, most actors would play multiple roles, so performers would need a lot of versatility to really tell the story right!
You’ll also get a chance to see what it took to make such a program happen, including watching the Foley artist at work as he creates the sound effects so necessary to add realism to the show! In the early years of film, Jack Foley pioneered the system of creating and augmenting sound effects that bears his name and that is still in place in the film industry today. A wooden chair to create the sound of a creaking door, coconut halves tapped together to replicate horses’ hooves: you’ll witness many similar substitutions of the most ingenious type. We’re offering you an opportunity to actually see what you hear!
More about It’s A Wonderful Life:
It’s a Wonderful Life came out in 1947, and that year it was nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Frank Capra), Best Actor (Jimmy Stewart), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound, Recording. Alas, it didn’t win in any of those categories; another film, The Best Years of Our Lives, won three of those awards (Picture, Actor and Director, Film Editing) while the Sound Recording award went to The Jolson Story. Frank Capra did, however, win the Golden Globe for directing It’s a Wonderful Life in 1947.
The story that we know as It’s a Wonderful Life actually appeared in print three different times before being made into the much beloved film. The author, Philip Van Doren Stern, originally wrote it as a two page treatment; he later expanded upon it, titled it “The Greatest Gift”, and made it into a pamphlet that he sent out as a Christmas card to his friends. One of those friends was an agent who helped the story find its way to RKO Pictures; the studio purchased the rights to the story in 1943. That same year, the story appeared under the title “The Man Who Never Was” in Good Housekeeping magazine; it was also published as a small book under the title The Greatest Gift. RKO sold the rights to the story to Liberty Films, Frank Capra’s production company, in 1945; screenwriters given credit for creating the screenplay include Francis Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Capra himself. Although she received no credit, Dorothy Parker also did a polish on the script. (source: It’s A Wonderful Life: The Fiftieth Anniversary Scrapbook, Jimmy Hawkins).
GEORGE BAILEY BY ANY OTHER NAME?
When RKO Pictures owned the rights to the story that would become It’s A Wonderful Life, their first choice for the role of George Bailey was……Cary Grant. However, when Frank Capra’s Liberty Films bought the rights and Capra took the lead on the project, his first, one and only choice for the role was Jimmy Stewart. He considered several actresses, however, for the role of Mary Bailey, including Jean Arthur, Ginger Rogers, and Olivia DeHavilland, before granting the role to Donna Reed. Henry Travers, who created the role of Clarence, was originally considered for three other roles: George’s father, Uncle Billy, and Old Man Gower. And Capra thought of both Claude Rains and Vincent Price for the role of Mr. Potter! (sources: It’s A Wonderful Life: The Fiftieth Anniversary Scrapbook, Jimmy Hawkins; The It’s A Wonderful Life Book, Jeanine Basinger)