On Friday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., the Dolores Theatre Troupe will present “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play” in the Dolores High School commons.
The play, which is based on the classic film created by Frank Capra, follows the story of George Bailey, who feels like his life has not been worth much.
Through the play, Bailey sees what the world would be like had he never been born, and realizes the impact he has been able to make on the world.
“He gets face to face with the outcomes of some of the things that he put in motion when he wasn’t there to put them in motion,” Troupe Director Peter Swingle said. “We learn that every life matters and every life is wonderful in terms of the impact it can have.”
The troupe puts a twist on the beloved movie by performing as if it were a radio drama set in the 1940s. According to Swingle, the entire play takes place in a radio studio and the actors act as radio actors playing the parts, while engaging the audience who becomes the radio drama’s studio audience.
“There’s even applause signs and things like that,” Swingle said. “We have a sound effect area with the old opening and closing doors and bells and all kinds of large honking horns and things that they can use for sound effects on stage to go along with the radio lines of dialogue.”
Auditions for the play began in early September, and rehearsals have been taking place two to three times a week for the past 11 to 12 weeks.
Swingle said 25 to 30 students – from sixth through 12th grades – are involved in the production.
Millie Pym, who plays the angel Clarence Oddbody, said her favorite part about preparing for the play has been the artwork of learning the role and growing the character.
“I really love making the art. I like it when I start to know my lines better and I can repeat them and try to really see how I think the character would act,” she said.
Darwin Cooper, who plays Bailey, said, “I really enjoy the coming together of the group of actors as well as the kind of finding the character in yourself as well as without yourself and kind of building this person.”
He added that his favorite moment in the play is when Mr. Potter, the antagonist, tells Mr. Bailey that he is worth more dead than alive.
“It’s kind of the moment George realizes the only way that he can save his family is by sacrificing himself, and it’s kind of a break in his determination. It’s a very pivotal moment,” he said.
Pym said her favorite scene also involves Bailey.
“It’s when he has his downfall,” she shared. “Everything has kind of come to an end and the people he loves don’t really remember him. And then he kind of finds his self-worth. I love his moment of realization; I find that very moving.”
Both Cooper and Pym said they hope the audience is moved by the story and is able to take away the valuable lessons sprinkled throughout the play.
“I think the really important thing that the audience can take away from this, and what I hope they take away from this, is that it’s kind of a butterfly effect. Everybody affects each other. We may seem like we are completely independent individuals, but everybody affects everybody else,” Cooper said. “Many people wish that they were never born, but they don’t understand the ramifications of that. I hope it gives them pause to think, ‘Well, what if I was never born? However insignificant I think I am, how many people did I affect?’ Even if it’s ever so small, it ripples into something greater.”
Pym echoed Cooper’s statement, saying, “I think it’s very important to realize how important you are in that just your existence means so much. It’s just incredible … and I hope people realize that you don’t have to do everything alone, and that sometimes it’s OK to rely on people who love you.”
Tickets to the play are $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.