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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2012 by Tony Annicone

"It's A Wonderful Life: A Radio Play"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Renaissance City Theatre, Inc's holiday show this year is "It's a Wonderful Life:A Live Radio Play" adapted by Joe Landry. 10 performers, supported by a sound-effects man, deliver the lines of all the characters from the Frank Capra movie. This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940's radio broadcast. It is staged as an old fashioned radio show. The audience is transported back in time as a radio audience watching an ensemble of actors bringing dozens of characters to life on stage. The ''broadcast'' is interspersed with announcements and old time radio commercials. A sound man creates all the sound effects in this delightful show. Relive the story of the idealistic George Bailey as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. This is a fully realized version of the story originally brought to life by Frank Capra in the movie that starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Director David Jepson casts some topnotch performers in this heartwarming Christmas tale, winning them a standing ovation at their expertise.

David brings out the best in his cast. The show tells the story of George Bailey, a good man who comes upon difficult times and in an act of true desperation, is offered the chance to realize the value of his own life by his guardian angel, Clarence. George learns no man is a failure who has friends. David built the gorgeous radio set. He and his cast deliver all the lines from the movie. They play multiple roles in the show so I will mention the performers major role. Sonny Dufault commands the stage as the announcer at NYC radio station WBFR and the evil Mr. Potter. His vocal ability astounds the audience. Sonny transforms from one character to the other at the speed of light including Uncle Billy and Mr. Gower. He delivers an outstanding performance in this show. Bill Martuscello plays the huge role of George Bailey splendidly. He garners the empathy of the audience from his first scene as young George saving his brother while ice skating to the poignant closing scene where friends and family come to his aid to rescue him from the evil Mr. Potter. Bill's talented daughter, Maria delivers a great performance as Zuzu and Janie Bailey. She varies her vocal delivery in each role. Maria is only 9 and has a wonderful future ahead of her as does 10 year old Santino Venieri who plays Pete and Tommy Bailey. Valerie Remillard Myette, a gorgeous statuesque red head plays George's lovely wife, Mary. She delivers a marvelous performance as the tender hearted girl who falls in love with George and becomes his wife. Mary supports George in all his endeavors. It is great seeing Valerie back on stage again. I first reviewed Valerie as Becky in "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?'' in 2002.

The other wonderful performers play multiple roles, too. David Jepson does double duty in this show acting in many roles,too. He plays the pivotal role of Clarence the Angel while his wife Beth plays George's mother. John Payne plays George's brother, Harry and Danielle Conti plays Violet Bick, the town flirt. John Cillino is topnotch as the sound effects man. He is a hoot as he handles door closing and opening, the wind, footsteps, the cuckoo clock ring and many others. The cast sings two funny commercials about hair tonic sung to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Duck's Toilet Cake sung to Santa Claus is Coming to Town. "It's a Wonderful Life" is a splendid alternative to "A Christmas Carol". It is well worth seeing to usher in this joyous time of year.So for a heart warming Christmas tale, be sure to catch this show at the Granite Theatre. Tell them Tony sent you.

"It's A Wonderful Life: A Radio Play" (30 November - 23 December)
RENAISSANCE CITY THEATRE
@ 1 Granite Street, WESTERLY RI
1(401)596-2341

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