Pacific Theatre

It's a Wonderful Life Radio Show by Peter Church

Dates and Venue 5 – 30 December 2014, Wed –Sat at 8pm (2pm Saturday matinees) | Pacific Theatre, 1440 W 12th Ave

Reviewer Roger Wayne Eberle

The “radio show” is alive and well in the hands of director Sarah Rogers and adaptation aficionado Peter Church. In fact, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at how dramatic, vibrant, and animated this medium turns out to be when you “turn your dial” to tune in to Pacific Theatre’s production of the It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show.

As Peter Church—who does double duty in the role of Clarence, the angel who wants his wings—suggests, it is impossible not to be influenced by the Capra film classic. There are to be sure several respectful and knowing nods to that old Christmas gem, but this version is less of an homage than an artistic original. It is truly impressive to watch how music and sound director, Joel Stephanson and the other nine radio stars bring this timeless story to a life of its own with such affectionate and lavish attention to detail.

Everything from the jingles to the methodical sound effects were lovingly researched and presented with an elaborate authenticity and an infectious energy. The jingles showcase the harmonies and vocal talents of Kaitlin Williams, Diana Squires, and Kirsty Provan; and the entire cast have a hand in using the relics of a by-gone era assembled to make sound seem less of an effect and more of a character that takes on a life of its own.

John Voth brings his George Bailey to life with a unique force and finesse, and Kaitlin Williams is as fulsome and robust a Mary Bailey as one could wish to see in a radio production.

Each of the other seven actors plays several roles and it is as incredible to watch it all unfold before the radio microphones as it is to watch a Cirque de Soleil production. You will not want to miss this trip back to the mid-1940s, back to a generation when the world lived in an era where listening took centre stage.

Thanks to Sarah Rodgers and Peter Church, this Pacific Theatre production of the It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show is as much a feast for the eyes as it is a feast for the ears, because sound is not the only sense it evokes so captivatingly in its quest for a wonderful life. Still it helps to listen, and listen well.

© 2014 Roger Wayne Eberle