WMTC to stage ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Audiences looking to enjoy one of the most iconic holiday stories of all time can experience it in a whole new way when Woodstock Musical Theatre Company presents “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a live radio play.

“I think it’s a great Christmas classic,” said artistic director Regina Belt-Daniels. “People are searching for something that’s positive and uplifting.”

The story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. But instead of a traditional play, the tale will come to life as a live, 1940s-style radio broadcast on the stage of the Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren St.

“I think the audience is used to traditional dramas,” Belt-Daniels said of the production, which is the first radio play she has directed. Actors will be outfitted in period costumes, speaking into nostalgic, vintage-style microphones. She said she also has added stage direction to create more visual interest for the audience.

A Foley artist – someone who specializes in sound effects – will be present on stage, creating an audible backdrop to the production and another visual element to the show.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” will be the 30th area production in which Belt-Daniels has been involved. Her resume includes shows at colleges, the Raue Center and the Right-Center-Left Production Company.

“What’s interesting for me is that the original script called for five actors. We had 45 people audition,” she said.

To compensate, Belt-Daniels divided the five roles, originally written as multiple parts for each actor, into separate roles to allow for more actors.

“We have a remarkable cast. … It made me feel really good to have so many past actors audition,” said Belt-Daniels, who started working with area theater companies in the 1980s. “Some of them haven’t been on stage for a long time. It’s exciting to work with them again.”

Robert Wilbrandt, a McHenry County circuit court judge, is one of those returning actors. He plays Mr. Potter.

The show will open Thanksgiving weekend, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 24 and 25 and Dec. 1 and 2; 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26; and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and 3.

Ticket prices are $24 for adults and $21 for students and senior citizens. To order, call the box office at 815-338-4212 or visit woodstockoperahouse.com.

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