The Bedford Falls of 1946 returns to life once more
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.