Homegrown Theatre brings “It’s a Wonderful Life” to Lacombe Performing Arts stage

Sheila Mcilwain (Rose Bailey) and Darren King (George Bailey) rehearse a scene from Homegrown Theatre's production of the radio version of "It's a Wonderful Life" at the Trinity Lutheran Church last Thursday evening. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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Homegrown Theatre Production Company will once again broadcast one of the most classic Christmas television tales during the Light Up the Night festival.

For two nights only, the new Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation (LPACF) stage at the Trinity Lutheran Church will transform into the WBFR booth for the live radio play of It’s a Wonderful Life.

“It’s a heartwarming story – even in rehearsals you see some of the cast members shed a tear because it’s such a nice story,” said Grant Harder, LPACF president.

“They did it last year and it was quite successful. They decided to run it again and hopefully turn it into a Christmas tradition in Lacombe.”

It’s a Wonderful Life was released Dec. 20, 1946. While it wasn’t a box office success at first, it is now considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, and one of the most-loved.

With its 130-minute running time, however, the full-length production is just a bit too long for audiences to sit through comfortable, and so Homegrown Theatre opted for the shorter radio version, which only runs for about 90 minutes.

The story itself centres on George Bailey (Darren King), a man who has given up his every last dream to help others and finds himself on the verge on suicide on Christmas Eve. However, when he stops his guardian angel, Clarence (Wolfgang Kuraitis), from drowning, he’s shown just how much he’s touched the lives of those in his home community of Bedford Falls – and naturally, how wonderful life really is.

Rather than a full-on play complete with sets and full costumes, the production will be more of a theatrical reading, with actors relying more on their voices to tell the tale, as actors would if they were truly performing the play on air.

A unique treat for those in the audience will be the creation of real sound effects on stage a la Jack Foley – the man behind “Foley effects.” The opening and shutting of doors, coins clinking away, water and the noise of someone falling down the stairs will all be produced on stage, giving a realistic quality to the play, rather than relying on canned or digital sound effects.

“We have some sheet metal for thunder – it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “A radio play is really a different theatre experience.”

The show will run Friday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, and available at Gish Law Office, Finders Keepers, online through Eventbrite, and at the door.