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It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (2019)

This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast.

Nov 30th to Dec 7th 2019

Written by Joe Landry

Directed by Richard Warren

This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast.

Christmas Eve, New York City, 1946. In a studio at radio station WBFR, five actors gather for a live broadcast of the classic Christmas story "It's A Wonderful Life". Between them, they have 51 parts to play - and, with a dedicated Studio Manager and a ridiculously overworked sound operator, more than 60 different sound effects to create. All performed in the time-honoured radio way: live, with whatever the sound op (and the actors) can find to make all the right noises, at all the right times. Then there's the commercial break. Where, to satisfy the sponsors, ads also have to be performed, and jingles sung....

Joe Landry's inventive 2006 stage play is a delightful, highly theatrical version of one of the most popular Hollywood films of all time. It's a huge challenge for actors who need to be versatile, agile, and full of energy. And a sound team who need to work - in full view of the audience - to create live effects, from cracking ice to jumping in a river.

This amateur production by the Criterion Theatre Company was by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc.




"This is New York City recreating small-town America on Christmas Eve. And it’s going out live. Nothing can be recorded, edited and replayed. Everything has to be bang on first time. No room for error. The Criterion cast rose to the challenge... under Richard Warren’s meticulous direction, the timing was impeccable throughout... this is a wonderful production..."


Chris Arnot for  


"We see a ‘live’ radio broadcast of the story, five actors and two sound operators managing to deliver from a studio, dozens of parts and sound effects in one seamless whole... the actors get right into their parts, their vocal dexterity simply amazing, along with just enough physical action to draw you right into the characters and the scenes. It’s a remarkable task, requiring perfectly pitched performances. Too much, or too little ‘acting’ would have ruined it...There’s a place for goodness in all our hearts, and this wonderful, dextrous, devoted and thoroughly professional production shows that to be eternally true"


Nick le Mesurier