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‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’ opens at Thingamajig Theatre

Photo courtesy Doug Chapin
Bob Hite, Bonnie Hite, Craig Dolezel, Laura Moore and Mark Brown star in the Thingamajig Theatre production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.” Showtimes and dates are Dec. 7- 23, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.

Staff Writer

You can’t have one without the other.

Milk: Cookies.

Winter: Snow.

Cold weather: A warm mug of cocoa or tea or coffee held tightly betwixt two hands.

Technically, maybe, you can pry the two from each other in each case, but to do so would feel like shifting the natural order of things.

There’s one more to add to the list, and everyone in America knows it — Christmas: “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

In Pagosa Springs this year, families don’t have to program their Tivo to capture the network airing of the legendary tale of a good, ordinary man rediscovering  the beauty of his life with the help of an angel on the way to earning wings.

This year, instead of gathering around the dull, glowing light of the flat screen, Thingamajig Theatre Company offers Pagosans “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.” The play, unassuming in manner, provides everything a person longs for in the holidays —  a moral sense that a wonderful life involves doing the right thing, regardless of financial loss or gain.

While not quite the “It’s a Wonderful Life” that James Stewart chiseled into the memory of so many moviegoers, the trials of George and Mary Bailey, Clarence and the old curmudgeon Mr. Potter is artfully told by the five actor cast in the Thingamajig production.

For the audience, it’s not so much watching a play; rather, what  director Tim Moore manages to do is give his audience of an experience of an old-timey Christmas. Walking into the black box theater, the audience is transported through time, landing in a 1949 radio studio, complete with “On Air” and “Applause” signs that make the audience feel even more a part of the show.

Playwright Joe Landry’s script and Moore’s direction bring to life all the iconic characters of the film. The production also succeeds in conveying the American tradition of gathering around and telling a story. In this case, a story of cheer and good will — a story that, for many Americans, means that Christmas is here.

The dynamic cast features Thingamajig’s welcome regular Laura Moore as Sally Applewhite, playing Mary Hatch, and Pagosa locals Bob Hite as Freddie Fillmore the play’s narrator, Bonnie Hite as Lana Sherwood, and Mark Brown as Harry “Jazzbo” Heywood. New York actor Craig Dolezel leads this cast as Jake Laurents, who portrays George Bailey.

Each actor takes on the parts and sound effects that create a town, a landscape. The costume and scenery is instrumental in transporting the audience back to the late ’40s, when the story told over the radio helped the nation dust off the dregs of World War II.

Of course, the setting wouldn’t be complete without the last, perhaps most entertaining touch: old-timey sound effects. As the actors take turns at the “hot mic,” the rest of the cast provides the sound effects, from dropping beads into jars to shutting a miniature door on a desk and slamming the receiver down in a telephone.

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” is a perfect way for all members of the family to get in tune with the holiday spirit.

Showtimes and dates for “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” are Dec. 7- 23, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.

Tickets are available for purchase, $18, at www.pagosacenter.org or by calling 731-SHOW. Tickets may also be purchased at the door for $25. Call ahead to ensure availability.

“It’s a Wonderful: A Live Radio Play” is rated G and appropriate for all ages.

lindsey@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on December 6, 2012.
  • Marie Layton

    I saw this show last night. It was unbelievably amazingly awesome! Everything was spectacular. I could not go to the city and see a better production. We had such a good time, I’m sure I was smiling the whole time. I would be giddy with joy if I could attend the show every night. The set, costume, the sound effects, the acting, the singing–all fabulous! Everyone should go see it–twice!