Along with A Christmas Carol, screenings and adaptations of the Frank Capra film It's A Wonderful Life flood the media each yuletide season. NoHo's Theatre Unleashed, like many a Los Angeles theatrical group, proved unwilling to simply mount a classic. They re-imagined it, in part because company member Jim Martyka wrote a fresh version--one with more than a few delightful surprises.
It's A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play proves itself a play-within-a play. Like many an adaptation, Martyka's script uses the style of a radio play to get around the flashbacks and vast character changes required by the story. But what his version does--and others do not (at least the ones I've seen)--is give a parallel story to the radio performers themselves.
And so we're off! As a playwright myself, the trick of getting the audience invested in the play's production made we want to applaud! Eventually of course I did! Because apart from the--very clever--writing, everything about this production struck the right notes. The comedy veers between madcap to achingly human. The stories echo back and forth on many levels, heightening the power of both the radio play and the radio players. In fact, this may well be my favorite version of IAWL ever! So writer, cast and director Jenn Scuderi Crafts all deserve lots of applause from plenty of audiences (which I hope they will get).
It's A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play plays Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm through December 18, 2016 at The Belfry Stage, upstairs from the Crown, 11031 Camarillo Street, North Hollywood CA 91602.