Updated Fri, Dec 9, 2011 10:19 am
Ohio University Lancaster theater students delivered on their promise to entertain and surprise during It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, performed Dec. 1-3 in the Wagner Theater.
The cast members, joined by the Lancaster Men's Chorus and chorus groups from Fairfield Union and Lancaster high schools, recreated the authentic feel of a live radio show, set in a 1940s radio studio.
Sophomore communications major Mason Taylor portrayed George Bailey. "We’re actors playing actors playing characters in an old radio show,” he said.
The Wagner Theater's stage was transformed into a Manhattan radio studio with microphones and authentic sound effects. Cast members eschewed advanced technology and looked for “everything we could to make the sounds,” said Charles Seebach, a criminology major, who played Uncle Billy, among other roles.
Cast members created the accompanying effects on stage and sang the jingles for the radio play sponsors.
Taylor prepared for his role by thinking of the movie, one of his favorites. “I wanted to portray [George’s] frustrations and rise above them at the end,” he said.
Director Victor Jones commended Taylor not only for his performance, but for his command of 90 pages of dialogue. While the cast members held ‘radio scripts’ in their hands, they memorized each and every part.
"I wanted the students to engage with the audience," said Jones. "It’s distracting to look down and find your place in the lines of a script. It was a difficult show to produce, and I was very pleased."
The scenes may have been different, but the ‘Wonderful Life’ message was the same. Jesse Warner, an electronic media major who interviewed the cast, described the play as ‘amazing’ and played the movie in his head as he watched his fellow students on stage.
“I will certainly be attending every play I can from now on,” said Warner.
The Ohio University Lancaster Theater Department’s next production will be Neil Simon’s Rumors, which will open in March, 2012.
The audio interview is an excerpt from "The Mirror," a student-produced podcast from Ohio University Lancaster. The cast interview was produced by Reid Dillashaw and Josh Mogan, and conducted by Jesse Warner.