Tennessee Shakespeare Company Stages Inside Dixon Gallery & Gardens It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

Sponsored by FedEx Corporation

Memphis, TN (November 19, 2012) – – Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), the Mid-South's professional classical theatre, presents the joyous stage version of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play inside Dixon Gallery & Garden's Winegardner Auditorium from December 6-16 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 all the dialogue and characters from the film and played by a company of seven actors.

Directed by TSC's Stephanie Shine (Southern Yuletide; Romeo and Juliet), the production is generously sponsored by FedEx Corporation. The exclusive media sponsor is Commercial Appeal Media.

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.

In the play that the actors read, 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.

"This beautiful story, adapted from Civil War historian Philip Van Doren Stern's short story, The Greatest Gift, is a great gift indeed," says Shine. "It gives us the opportunity to be reminded how connected our lives are in our community and how acts of kindness reverberate in ways we may never realize. What better gift for your loved ones than to experience this together?"

In partnership with TSC, Memphis' public radio station WKNO-FM 91.1 will broadcast TSC's Thursday, December 6 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. Brad Kroeker plays announcer Freddie Filmore, who also reads Mr. Potter, Mr. Gower, Ernie the taxi driver, and Martini. Jim Eikner plays Harry "Jazzbo" Heywood, who also reads Clarence Oddbody, Uncle Billy, and Bert the cop.

Trevor Pittinger (Jake Laurents) reads George Bailey, and Amelia Hammond (Sally Applewhite) reads Mary Hatch.

Lorraine Cotten (Hope Merriwether) reads Zuzu, Matilda, Ruth, Mrs. Hatch, and Sadie Vance.  Kim Justis (Lana Sherwood) reads Violet, Rose Bailey, Mrs. Thompson, and Janie.  Jerry Kimble, Jr. (Dayton Parker) reads Joseph, Harry Bailey, Sam Wainwright, and Nick the barkeep.

Bruce Bui, of Ballet Memphis, provides the period costume design in his fourth season with the company, and Memphian Matt Strampe is the scenic and lighting designer.

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 $25 in advance and $30 day-of-show. Tickets for the December 6 Preview performance/WKNO Live Broadcast are only $15 regardless of when purchased.

December 6 and December 13 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

  • December 6 at 7:00 pm Preview and Free Will Kids' Night and Live WKNO Radio Airdate
  • December 7 at 7:00 pm Opening Performance and Pre-Show Revels Party
  • December 8 at 7:00 pm Performance
  • December 9 at 3:00 pm Performance
  • December 12 at 7:00 pm Performance
  • December 13 at 7:00 pm Free Will Kids' Night
  • December 14 at 7:00 pm Performance
  • December 15 at 7:00 pm Performance
  • December 16 at 3:00 pm Closing Performance

Ticket Information
Tickets on sale now. All performances are $25 in advance and $30 day-of-show. All preview performances are $15 regardless of when purchased. Free Will Kids' Nights: Children 17 years and younger admitted FREE when accompanied by a paying/attending guardian. All Dixon members receive 20% off their tickets.

Box Office/Administrative Office
Located in the historic train depot at 2260 West Street, Germantown, TN. Monday - Friday, 9am – 5pm.
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 season. Originally from Southern California, Bruce now lives in Memphis, and is going into his eleventh 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 has been praised as "dazzling" by Critical Dance Magazine and a "Master of Chiffon" by The Commercial Appeal. Bruce's previous TSC shows include Macbeth, The Rebel Shakespeare and His Women, The Glass Menagerie, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet. He has also worked with companies such as 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 has also worked on several commercials in the Mid-South. When not working behind the scenes, Bruce enjoys acting on stage, and has been in numerous productions with Emerald Theatre Company.

Lorraine Cotten (Actor) is thrilled to be a part of this TSC production! Most recently, she appeared as Pauline in Circuit's Dividing the Estate. In her younger days, she acted in NY, LA, and around the country in theatres including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Barter Theatre, Arkansas Rep, and the NJ Shakespeare Festival. Lorraine currently teaches and directs at ECS, and loves doing local theatre with her children (James and Katy) and her husband, Chris. Some recent projects include Big River at The Harrell and an "inclusive" camp production of High School Musical, Jr. with New Day Children's Theatre.

Jim Eikner (Actor) is a native Memphian, Jim Eikner attended Messick High School and attributes any success in performing and public speaking to his speech teacher at Messick, Freda Kenner. He attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he performed roles with UT Players including Ensign Pulver in "Mr. Roberts." One UT Player was Tony winner, John Cullum. Jim attended Southwestern, where he was directed by Ray Hill and George Touliatos in Hotel Universe and Anouilh's Antigone, acting with Tony winner, George Hearn. He has performed at Playhouse on the Square and Theatre Memphis. He recently celebrated 25 years as Marketing Manager, WKNO-TV and FM.

Kim Justis (Actor) delights in working with TSC during its spectacular fifth season. Since graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in theatre, she has spent years working on and around numerous stages in the area, most recently at Playhouse/Circuit in Good People. The Ostrander Award-winner counts among her favorites God of Carnage, From Up Here, August: Osage County, Rabbit Hole, Bad Dates, Sweeney Todd, Proof, Parallel Lives, Dinner with Friends, I Love You You're Perfect Now Change, How I Learned to Drive, Falsettos, Ruthless, Tartuffe, Oleanna, and Kindertransport. As Company Manager and actor in ShoWagon at Theatre Memphis, she worked with Shakespeare pieces, and she has experience on the radio, having done several shows with Chatterbox Audio Theatre.

Kristen Greene (Props Designer) is excited to be back for a second season with TSC, previously working as an assistant stage manager and props master for The Tempest and The Glass Menagerie. She also recently stage managed Fiddler on the Roof at Theatre Memphis. Prior to moving to Memphis, Kristen spent two years in Williamsburg, Virginia, stage managing at Busch Gardens. Kristen has a BFA in stage management from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and also studied at Shakespeare's Globe in London.

Amelia Hammond (Actor) hails from Washington, DC, and is thrilled to be returning to TSC for her second season. Audiences in Memphis have seen her in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) and as Miranda in 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 is proud to have received her MFA from the University of Houston PATP, her BA from Coastal Carolina University, and to have trained with the Gainesville Theatre Alliance.

Jerry Kimble, Jr. (Actor) is thrilled to be in his first production at Tennessee Shakespeare Company. He graduated in the Spring 2011 from the University of Memphis with a BFA in Theatre Performance. He recently completed touring with Missoula Children's Theater teaching musical theatre. Some of his favorite performances were Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire and Troy Maxson in Fences.

Brad Kroeker (Actor) has recently appeared as guest grill chef on WKNO's "Local Color" and as John Christow in Agatha Christie's The Hollow. Other recent Memphis performances include roles in Opera Memphis' Macbeth, Frederick in A Little Night Music, and El Gallo in The Fantasticks. Brad has been the fight choreographer at Opera Memphis and other theatrical productions (Ostrander winner for Rhodes College's Hamlet), and is the Memphis University School (2012 State Champions) varsity fencing coach. A native Nebraskan and graduate of The University of Nebraska, he has also served on the faculty of The University of Memphis and Rhodes College.

Joe Landry (Playwright of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play) 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 (Actor) comes from New York City and is elated to be making his debut this season with TSC. 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 Emperor's New Clothes with The Houston Children's Theater Festival; 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+ (General Manager and Education Director; Director of It's a Wonderful Life: Live Radio Play and Shakespeare's Greatest Hits) Previous directorial work for TSC includes Southern Yuletide and Romeo and Juliet, both at the Dixon. 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. Her other directorial credits include The Taming of the Shrew and The Comedy of Errors for Colorado Shakespeare Festival; I Am of Ireland (which she also conceived and adapted) for Book-It Repertory Theatre; Romeo and Juliet for Seattle University, When the Messenger is Hot for Theater Schmeater, the international award-winning one-woman Marilyn Monroe Biopic, Marilyn: Forever Blonde and this summer's Romeo and Juliet for Shakespeare Walla Walla's Summer Festival. 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.

Matthew Strampe (Scenic/Lighting Designer; Technical Director/Master Electrician) returns to TSC having worked as the Technical Director and Master Electrician on Complete Works, The Tempest and The Glass Menagerie last season. Matt has been working as a professional theatrical designer and technician for the past 13 years, and has been fortunate to work in many wonderful places with many wonderful people. He started his professional career through baptism by fire at "The Lost Colony" on the outer banks of North Carolina. Since then, he has worked with many performing arts companies, including Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia, Ballet Memphis, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Arkansas Arts Center, Hendrix College, New Harmony Theatre, Harrell Theatre, Theatre Memphis, and University of Memphis' Opera Department, to name a few. Matt has been a designer or lead technician for over 100 different productions. He was raised in the great state of South Dakota and educated at The University of South Dakota. Matt would like to thank the magnificent people he has worked with, his friends, and most of all, his wife, Julie.

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