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The Holiday Classic Returns by Popular Demand:
Tennessee Shakespeare Company presents

It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

Inside the Winegardner Auditorium at The Dixon
Sponsored by FedEx Corporation

Memphis, TN (November 5, 2013) – – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South's professional classical theatre, returns last year's holiday hit It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play with a new look both on stage and in the audience to Dixon Gallery & Garden's Winegardner Auditorium from November 20 – December 8 in Memphis.

Adapted by Joe Landry from the famous Frank Capra holiday film featuring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey and Donna Reed as Mary Hatch, It's a Wonderful Life comes to stage-life in this 1946 radio play employing the dialogue and characters from the film and played by a company of five actors.

 

Re-directed by TSC's Stephanie Shine (Southern Yuletide; Romeo and Juliet), the production is made possible by title sponsor FedEx Corporation.

The Dixon Gallery auditorium is transformed into a 1946 remote radio station bandstand, complete with period holiday decorations, commercial jingles, and hand-made sound effects. The live broadcast features the company of radio actors both on and off the air, but the central focus is on the live broadcast of this "new" radio play.

The production will feature a very different, fun scenic design, and the audience will sit on full risers (as they did during TSC's spring show of Hamlet) for perfect sight-lines and comfortable seating.

In the play that the actors read on-air, George Bailey has spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. He has always longed to travel but never did so in order to prevent rich skinflint Mr. Potter from taking over the entire town. All that has prevented him is George's modest loan company, The Bailey Building & Loan, which was founded by his generous father.

But on Christmas Eve, George's Uncle Billy loses the business's $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank. When the bank examiner discovers the shortage, George realizes that he will be held responsible, sent to jail, and the company will collapse -- finally allowing Potter to take over the town. Thinking that his wife, their young children, and others he loves will be better off with him dead, George contemplates suicide.

The prayers of Bedford Falls that night result in a gentle angel named Clarence coming to Earth to help George. He shows George what Bedford Falls would be like if indeed he had never been born. What he sees is a Potter-controlled town sunken into depravation with all those George loves dead, ruined, or miserable. He realizes that he really has led a wonderful life – and the entire town honors and saves George that night in more ways than one.

"In the spirit of tradition, we welcome back several members from last year's cast," says Shine. "And much like a family gathered for a holiday that delights in recalling past memories and creating new ones, this family of actors will delve deeper into known roles while embracing all of the 1940s-era songs to delight audiences in the pre-broadcast entertainment."

In partnership with TSC, Memphis' public radio station WKNO-FM 91.1 will broadcast TSC's Thursday, November 21 performance live to all its listeners. Listen for the show at 7:00 pm (C.S.T.) that night.

Each member of the company of actors plays a radio personality who, in turn, plays multiple characters in It's a Wonderful Life. The returning Memphis cast includes Brad Kroeker as announcer Freddie Filmore, Mr. Potter, Mr. Gower, Ernie the taxi driver, and Martini; Jim Eikner as Harry "Jazzbo" Heywood, Clarence Oddbody, Uncle Billy, Harry Bailey, and Bert the cop; and Lorraine Cotten as Hope Merriwether, Zuzu, Violet, Rose Bailey, Mrs. Hatch, and Sadie Vance.

Returning from NYC is Trevor Pittinger as George Bailey, and from Washington, D.C., Amelia Fischer returns as Mary Hatch.

Bruce Bui, of Ballet Memphis, provides the period costume design in his fifth season with the company, and Jeremy Allen Fisher designs the lighting with Kristen Greene designing scenic and properties elements.

General Admission tickets are on sale now, Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC's office located at 2260 West Street in Germantown or by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org.

Tickets for all performances are $30. Tickets for the November 20 Preview performance are only $15.

Tickets for Opening Night on November 21 are $30 and include complimentary post-show dessert and champagne/sparkling cider toast with the actors and also participation in the live broadcast over WKNO-FM airwaves.

November 21, 28 (Thanksgiving), and December 5 are Free Will Kids' Nights: Children 17 years and younger are admitted FREE when accompanied by a paying/attending guardian.

All performances begin at 7:00 pm except for Sunday shows, which begin at 3:00 pm.

 

Public Performance Schedule at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens

November 20 at 7:00 pm Preview and Free Will Kids' Night and Live WKNO Radio Airdate

November 21 at 7:00 pm Opening, Free Will Kids' Night, Post-Show Party, WKNO Live Broadcast

November 22 at 7:00 pm Performance

November 23 at 700 pm Performance

November 24 at 3:00 pm Performance

November 28 at 7:00 pm Free Will Kids' Night, Thanksgiving

November 29 at 7:00 pm Performance

November 30 at 7:00 pm Performance

December 1 at 3:00 pm Performance

December 5 at 7:00 pm Free Will Kids' Night

December 6 at 7:00 pm Performance

December 7 at 7:00 pm Performance

December 8 at 3:00 pm Closing

 

Ticket Information

Tickets are on sale now. The Preview performance is $15. All other performances are $30. Free Will Kids' Nights: Children 17 years and younger admitted FREE when accompanied by a paying/attending guardian. Seniors, college students, and Dixon members receive 20% off their tickets for all performances.

Box Office/Administrative Office
Located in the historic train depot at 2260 West Street, Germantown, TN. Monday - Friday, 9am – 5pm.
901-759-0604
www.tnshakespeare.org
Twitter: @tnshakespeare

All performances are general admission; first come/first seated. Chairs are provided for all productions. Free parking. No refunds. Cast and schedule are subject to change.

 

Artist Bios

Bruce Bui (Costume Designer) is very excited to be a part of Tennessee Shakespeare's fifth anniversary season. He designed TSC's Unto the Breach, Shake(s), Rattle, & Roll, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), It's a Wonderful Life: a Live Radio Play, Rebel Shakespeare and His Women, and Shakespeare's Greatest Hits. Originally from Southern California, Bruce now lives in Memphis and is going into his twelfth season as the Wardrobe Director and Resident Costume Designer for Ballet Memphis. His works can be seen regularly on the Orpheum stage and numerous other venues around the Mid-South, and have been praised as "dazzling" by Critical Dance Magazine, and a "Master of Chiffon" by The Commercial Appeal. He has also worked with The Western Stage (Always, Patsy Cline), Cabrillo Musical Theatre (Funny Girl), Santa Susanna Repertory Theatre (Shiloh, War of the World), and Kingsmen Shakespeare Company (As You Like It), among others. Some of his specialty garments can be seen on Mrs. Tennessee for Mrs. America 2005, At Home Tennessee Magazine's featured wedding issue 2007, and The Memphis Mystic Krew 2005 court. Bruce also has worked on several commercials in the Mid-South.

Lorraine Cotten (Lana Sherwood) returns to the Wonderful Life cast from last season. Most recently, she appeared in the ensemble Les Miserables at Playhouse on the Square. She was also seen as Claire Partridge in Left Hand Singing at Theatreworks and as Pauline in Dividing the Estate at Circuit. Before receiving her MFA in Theatre (Directing) at the U of M, she lived in New York and Los Angeles and was fortunate to work in such theatres as Perry Steet (Off Broadway), Tiffany Theatre (LA), the Barter Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the New Jersey Shakespeare Theatre, and Arkansas Rep, among others, as well as in film and television. Directing credits include: Big River at The Harrell, and The Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast at ECS.

Jim Eikner (Harry "Jazzbo" Heywood) is a native Memphian and portrayed Norman Thayer, Jr. in the Germantown Community Theatre production of On Golden Pond. He has performed the title roles in Da and The Foreigner, as well as Ensign Pulver in Mister Roberts, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, and is pleased to reprise from last year his role of Guardian Angel Clarence Oddbody with TSC. Jim has served as Marketing Manager for WKNO-TV and FM for over 26 years.

Jeremy Allen Fisher (Lighting Designer, Master Electrician) is the Resident Lighting Designer for Theatre Memphis and a graduate of Oklahoma City University with a BFA in Lighting Design. He has worked for Santa Fe Opera, Busch Gardens, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, and Northern Oklahoma College. Jeremy was recently nominated for an Ostrander Award for best lighting design, Chicago, the Musical at Theatre Memphis, and placed first runner-up for the National Barbizon Lighting Award (2011) for his lighting design of A Streetcar Named Desire. He would like to thank his fiancée, friends, family, mentors and colleagues.

Kristen Greene (Properties Designer) TSC designs and stage management work include The Tempest, The Glass Menagerie, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and It's a Wonderful Life. Kristen is currently the stage manager and production coordinator for Ballet Memphis. She has a BFA in stage management from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and she also studied at Shakespeare's Globe in London.

Amelia Fischer (Sally Applewhite) hails from Washington, DC, and returns to TSC for her third season. Audiences in Memphis have seen her in It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Shakespeare's Greatest Hits, Hamlet, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), and The Tempest. Regional credits include: Hamlet, Othello, Comedy of Errors, and Taming of the Shrew with Houston Shakespeare Festival; As You Like It with Virginia Shakespeare Festival; Pericles and The Servant of Two Masters with Georgia Shakespeare. Amelia received her MFA from the University of Houston PATP, her BA from Coastal Carolina University, and to have trained with the Gainesville Theatre Alliance.

Brad Kroeker (Freddie Filmore) appeared in TSC's 2012 production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. He also recently appeared as guest grill chef on WKNO's "Local Color" and as John Christow in Agatha Christie's The Hollow. Other recent Memphis credits: Opera Memphis' Macbeth, and Frederick in A Little Night Music and El Gallo in The Fantasticks. Brad has been the fight choreographer with Opera Memphis and other theatrical productions (Ostrander winner for Rhodes College's Hamlet) and is the Memphis University School varsity fencing coach (2012 State Champions). A native Nebraskan and graduate of The University of Nebraska, Brad also has served on the faculty of The University of Memphis and Rhodes College.

Joe Landry (Playwright) At age 12, Joe's first job was in the film department at the library in his hometown of Fairfield, CT. This was before the dawn of home video, back in the days of 16mm, and their permanent collection included It's a Wonderful Life, The Lady Vanishes, and other early Hitchcock films. Joe's other main interest was the theatre. Encouraged by his parents, Joe was introduced to various theatres which he came to call home, including Playwrights Horizons and Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, Westport Country Playhouse, and others. In 1995, Joe founded Second Guess Theatre Company, which produced over two dozen new plays, adaptations, and revivals to critical-acclaim. In 1997, It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play premiered in Stamford, CT, and has since enjoyed productions around the country. Joe's other plays include Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play and an adaptation of the cult classic Reefer Madness. Other projects include Mothers and Sons, a musical co-written with Kevin Connors and Lifeboat, Dahling! with Bert Bernardi.

Trevor Pittinger (Jake Laurents) comes from New York City and returns to TSC and It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play for a second season. Last year, he also appeared in Hamlet and Shakespeare's Greatest Hits. Regional credits include: Romeo and Juliet at Greenbrier Valley Theater, Much Ado About Nothing with Palo Duro Shakespeare, two years in HYPE at the Alley Theater, The Dispute with Theatre Collide, and two years in the outdoor drama TEXAS! Film credits include: Child of God (dir. James Franco). Trevor received his MFA in acting from the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance, his BA from Rice University, and trained at the O'Neill National Theater Institute.

Stephanie Shine+ (Director; General Manager and Education Director) TSC directorial work includes Shake(s), Rattle & Roll, It's a Wonderful Life: a Live Radio Play, Shakespeare's Greatest Hits, Southern Yuletide, Romeo and Juliet, and The Rebel Shakespeare and His Women. During her 18 years with Seattle Shakespeare Company, 13 as Artistic Director, she directed 17 productions, including The Threepenny Opera, Cyrano de Bergerac, and the lauded all-male Taming of the Shrew. A well-known actress in the Northwest, Stephanie has performed for Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, ACT, The Empty Space, Seattle Children's Theatre, Book-It Repertory Theatre, and Tacoma Actors Guild. Regionally, she appeared with the Oregon and New Jersey Shakespeare Festivals, Houston's Alley Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, and NYC's Theatre for a New Audience. Her Shakespeare roles include Juliet, Rosalind, Lady Macbeth, Beatrice, Regan, Feste, Kate, Bianca, Dionyza, The Princess of France, Hero, Perdita, and The Chorus in Henry V.

+ Member of The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.

 

At-a-Glance

"It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play"
adapted by Joe Landry
directed by Stephanie Shine
sponsored by FedEx Corporation
performed in the Winegardner Auditorium at Dixon Gallery & Gardens, 4339 Park Avenue, Memphis, TN 38117
November 20 – December 8, 2013

Tickets are $30 adults; 20% discount for Seniors/Students and Dixon members; FREE for children 17 and younger when accompanied by a paying/attending guardian on Thursday nights.

Box Office is (901) 759-0604 and www.tnshakespeare.org

Description: Adapted by Joe Landry from the famous Frank Capra holiday film featuring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey and Donna Reed as Mary Hatch, It's a Wonderful Life comes to stage-life in this 1946 radio play employing all the dialogue and characters from the film and played by a company of five actors with period jingles and radio sound effects. For the entire family.

Production Sponsor

FedEx Corporation

 

Sustaining Sponsors

ArtsMemphis, The Dunbar Abston Fund for Sustainable Excellence, Barbara B. Apperson and The Barbara Apperson Angel Fund, Nancy and Dan Copp, Independent Bank, International Paper, Jack and Sandra Jones, Milton T. Schaeffer, Shakespeare for a New Generation: a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, Dr. and Mrs. Owen B. Tabor and their family, Ann and Wellford Tabor, Target, Tennessee Arts Commission

 

Season Partners

Dixon Gallery & Gardens, The Duncan-Williams Performance Hall at GPAC,

St. George's Episcopal Church, WKNO Public Television & Radio