Mansfield Arts and Music Society's holiday show this year is "It's a Wonderful Life, The Radio Play" adapted by Phil Grecian where 17 performers play 63 different roles. They are supported by a sound effects man while they deliver the lines of all the characters from the Frank Capra movie which starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940's radio broadcast. The audience is transported back in time watching an ensemble of performers bringing the characters to life on stage. The ''broadcast'' is interspersed with announcements and old time radio commercials. A sound man and his two helpers create all the different sound effects in this show. Relive the story of the idealistic George Bailey as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. This production is a family-friendly classic tale of redemption and hope that never grows stale and resonates with all ages. Director Ken Butler casts these talented performers splendidly in this heartwarming Christmas tale, winning them a resounding ovation at the curtain call.
Ken brings out the best in his cast and gives them comic bits to perform. The songs include "After the Ball", "I Love You, Truly", "Hark, the Herald Angels" and "Auld Lang Syne." The sung commercials are hilarious as the cast sings them. The show tells the story of George Bailey, a good man who has come upon hard times and in an act of true desperation, is offered the chance to realize the value of his life by his guardian angel, Clarence. George learns no man is a failure who has friends. Ken designed the gorgeous radio set. The cast plays multiple roles in the show so I will mention their major role in the review. Patrick Murphy plays the huge role of George splendidly. He garners the empathy of the audience especially in the last scene when his friends and family come to his rescue from the evil Mr. Potter. 10 year old Jack Price shines as Young George especially when he saves his younger brother, Harry from drowning after an ice skating mishap. He also excels when changing his voice for several other roles, too. Ashley Harmon, a gorgeous brunette, plays George's beautiful wife, Mary. She delivers a marvelous performance as this tender hearted girl who falls in love with George and becomes his wife. Mary supports George in all his endeavors. The four children do splendid work, too. Olivia Coccia, a 13 year old is Zuzu and Haley Hartin is Janie while 13 year old, Jasper Olson plays Pete and Jack also plays Tommy. Robert Saquet commands the stage as the station manager, as well as the despicable Mr. Potter and to the opposite extreme becomes the voice of God.
Other performers play multiple roles marvelously, too. Ken Levy plays Clarence the Angel as well as the forgetful, Uncle Billy while Marianne Phinney plays George's mother as well as Violet Bick, the town flirt. Howard Berkenblit plays George's heroic brother, Harry as well as Bert, the cop while Joe LaGreca plays Mr. Gower, the druggist as well as Ernie, the cab driver. Michelle Monti is a hoot as Cousin Tilly while Jon Pierce plays Joseph, the angel as well as the Sheriff and Bank examiner. Sound engineer Bruce Webster and his two assistants, Terri Biancucci and Arlene Coccia are topnotch as the sound effects technicians. They are hilarious as they handle the door closing and opening, the wind blowing, footsteps, falling in the swimming pool and many others. Cynthia Small handles the stage manager role where she tells the audience and the performers when they are to participate in the radio show. So for a joyous way to usher in the holiday season, be sure to catch this heartwarming Christmas tale, "It's a Wonderful Life, the Radio Play" at MMAS. Tell them Tony sent you. P>