OFP brings warmth of a holiday classic to live radio show

The OFP cast for the Christmas show gets together for an early rehearsal for 'It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play." The show opens December 3rd and runs for two weekends. Photo courtesy of Old Fort Players

BY DOROTHY SCHULTE
Old Fort Players

FORT MADISON – After almost two years of Covid and Covid-related mandates, lockdowns and restrictions, we could all do with a little dose of hope. And that’s just what you’ll get when you head down to Old Fort Players this December. You’ll be treated to a traditional holiday experience with a little twist. 

Join OFP’s talented cast and crew as they recreate the classic Hollywood film, “It’s A Wonderful Life” as a stage play. First released in 1946 as the United States regrouped after four years of world war, this story of hope and purpose has become an iconic representation of American resilience. 

“The often invisible, yet unmistakable way each life is intertwined is what drew us to tell this story again. We performed it eight years ago and it was such a great experience for everyone involved that we just had to do it again,” OFP President, Dorothy Schulte remarked. “If we ever needed to reconnect with our fellow man, it’s now.”

This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble of actors that brings dozens of characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.

Director Kelly Shields manages a long list of fine actors. “It’s a nice mix of veterans and new faces which is always our goal at OFP, especially with a show like this. It gives people a chance to try acting on for size without having to memorize lines or navigate any complicated blocking. It’s a great way for kids to start out too,” Shields told us. 

Reprising their 2013 roles as The Radio Announcer is Rich Harlow and as Clarence the Angel, is Jim Posz. Providing the voices for George and Mary Bailey are Paul and Bonnie Wilkerson respectively. Portraying multiple supporting characters in the cast are Kim Albers as Rose Bailey, Matilda, Mrs. Hatch, Mrs. Thompson; Oscar Arianna Bauswell as Young Harry Bailey, and Sadie Vance; Cooper Barnes as Young George, Peter, and Tommy; Aubrey Davis as Young Violet, Young Mary, and Janie; Erin Bauswell will portray Zuzu; Shelley Dowling will be the voice of Violet and Ruth Bailey; and Matt Abel has been cast as Joseph the Archangel and will also run the lights. All the actors will help provide sound effects just like in the old days of live radio. 

“It’s A Wonderful Life: A LIVE Radio Play,” written by Tom Landry is produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. (www.playscripts.com) and runs December 3-5 & 10-12, 2021. Evening shows begin at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:00 pm. Tickets are available online at www.oldfortplayers.com or www.purplepass.com/ofpdec2021 and at the door. Adult: $15, Senior/Military/Vet: $12, Student (Age 5-17): $10. Masks are recommended. We will provide socially distanced seating, so capacity is limited. Make your reservations or purchase your tickets now!

Leading sponsors for the season are Jim Baier Ford and Lee County Bank. Our partners include the Fort Madison Daily Democrat and Scotts. Additional funds have been provided by Connections Bank. 

Last season would have been Old Fort Players’ 40th anniversary but the celebration was postponed due to Covid. So, this will be the “40+1 Anniversary Season.”

The theater is located in downtown Fort Madison at 725 Avenue G. Send a Facebook message, send an email to oldfortplayersfm@gmail.com or call 319-372-9559 for more information. Like them on Facebook (Fb@oldfortplayers) or visit www.oldfortplayers.com to keep up with everything that’s going on at the theater.

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