The Bed­ford Falls of 1946 re­turns to life once more

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - Byari­anna Au­ber aauber@states­man.com “IT’S A WON­DER­FUL LIFE: A LIVE RA­DIO SHOW” When: Where: Cost: In­for­ma­tion: CONTRIBUTED

For nearly two hours, the five ac­tors recre­at­ing “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” for the stage want to trans­port their au­di­ence to a time when Ge­orge Bai­ley and Mary Hatch lived in Bed­ford Falls and were saved by an an­gel named Clarence.

The Pen­fold The­atre Com­pany’s adap­ta­tion of the beloved 1946 movie, run­ning Thurs­day through Sun­day to Dec. 23, is a recre­ation with a twist. Called “It’s a Won­der­ful Life: a Live Ra­dio Show,” it’s ex­actly that: The ac­tors por­tray a ra­dio sta­tion per­form­ing the movie for a live stu­dio au­di­ence.

They use dis­tinc­tive voices to em­body each char­ac­ter, as well as live fo­ley sound ef­fects in the style of “A Prairie Home Com­pan­ion.” They also stage the per­for­mance at Rice’s Cross­ing Store in the vil­lage at Round Rock’s Old Set­tlers As­so­ci­a­tion.

Us­ing the small, his­toric build­ing, one of the old­est struc­tures in Wil­liamson County, was an in­ten­tional de­ci­sion, said Ryan Crow­der, Pen­fold’s pro­duc­ing artis­tic di­rec­tor.

“It’s like step­ping into Mr. Gower’s drug­store,” Crow­der said, ref­er­enc­ing the place where young Ge­orge Bai­ley worked. “The (Rice’s Cross­ing) store is off the beaten path and sur­rounded by other his­toric build­ings, and walking into it you feel like you’re leav­ing your old life be­hind. From the get-go,

8 p.m. Satur­day, 6 p.m. Sun­day, plus ad­di­tional per­for­mances through Dec. 23

Rice’s Cross­ing Store, 3300 E. Palm Val­ley Blvd. $18 to 20

www. pen­foldthe­atre.org we try to make the ex­pe­ri­ence im­mer­sive.”

Crow­der plays Ge­orge Bai­ley — a tall or­der given the iconic char­ac­ter­i­za­tion that Jimmy Ste­wart gave to the role. But Crow­der, like the other four, rises to the chal­lenge, his voice a star- tlingly sim­i­lar im­i­ta­tion of Ste­wart’s dis­tinct ca­dence.

Although he and the ac­tress who por­trays Mary Hatch, Jenni Fin­ley, both only have one role in the pro­duc­tion, the other three ac­tors per­form all of the re­main­ing characters.

Pen­fold The­atre also staged this pro­duc­tion last year, to great success.

That at­tests to the time­less na­ture of the ma­te­rial, Crow­der said.

“Your own mem­o­ries come with you when you walk in the door to see it. It’s true to the story and the movie, but it’s an in­ter­est­ing enough twist that it’s noth­ing you’ve seen be­fore,” he said.

“It’s a Won­der­ful Life: a Live Ra­dio Show” takes place in an old coun­try store in Round Rock.

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