You’ve no doubt seen “It’s a Wonderful Life,” though even the most ardent George Bailey fan may have never seen, or rather heard it, like this.
Westwood Middle School will present a live radio broadcast of the show at 7 p.m., Dec. 6-8 off campus at the Church@117. Tickets are available, but limited for the performance.
For those who haven’t seen Frank Capra’s 1946 film, James Stewart plays George Bailey, a suicidal CEO and family man whose impending demise is thwarted by a less than adept guardian angel.
Director and Westwood theater teacher Karen Lewis described the performance a retro-styled radio performance reminiscent of the pre-television radio broadcasts.
Students will be dressed in period clothing, Foley artists will perform sound effects as well as the lead actors doing dialog.
Rounding out a cast of 30 students, with just over half with multiple roles, are eighth graders Jovanne Barajas and David Dolack who play the Angel, Second Class Clarence and George Bailey.
Barajas said he came to the show wanting to try something different for his final year at Westwood.
“I decided to take on more things and tackle new things every once in a while. This is the first time being in a play, so I said, why not? And see where it goes,” he said.
Barajas is known at Westwood for being funny, so naturally his more enjoyable roles involve comedy.
“I like the comedy. Like when George punches the cop. It comes pretty natural,” he said.
For Dolack, some of the more challenging aspects of his role are the romantic scenes, being an eighth-grade guy.
“It’s pretty difficult and awkward sometimes,” he admitted, but was quick to commend his co-star for helping ease the tension.
Eighth-grader Kara Beth Patton plays Mary Hatch Bailey. Patton lightens the moments by offering pep talks to each other, like “We’re just George and Mary.”
Dolack added that the role was a chance to further his acting experiences with a rather complex character.
“George is pretty selfless. He does a lot for other people, even though sometimes he doesn’t want to. In the beginning, he dreams of going away and doing something fun. But when his dad died, he takes over (the family business) and never goes away from it,” Dolack said.
“You’re life may mean something incredible and you may have no clue. One person can make a big difference and still have no clue,” Dolack said.
He commended fellow cast members on their efforts.
“I feel like everybody in the show is working really hard and they all deserve a great performance. That’s something I think we can all pull off,” he said.
Tickets for the performance can be purchased in advance. Lewis recommends purchasing early due to the limited seating at the Church@117.
Lewis added that the venue has the perfect atmosphere for the radio show.
“Steve West's background with performance and his current work bringing shows to Tennessee schools make him the perfect host,” she said.
“He has been eager to help us with lighting and sound and simple set pieces. He has created a gorgeous venue and we are so excited to be able to present this live radio show from his stage. The audience is in for a real treat just being in this beautiful, renovated church for our production set in the 1940s,” Lewis said.
The show was moved off campus because the stage, located in the gym, is unavailable during basketball season.
Rob Clutter of Thunder Radio will record Friday night’s performance for broadcast on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on WMSR 1320.
Lewis said that this is the school’s first live radio show.
“It’s fun to watch. Of course it’s designed to be listened to,” she said, noting that in previous years Thunder had recorded Halloween shows for broadcast, but that Clutter had pushed this year for “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
In addition to Barajas and Dolack, Westwood cast include:
Cameron Ballard, Gianna Bland, Hunter Crosslin, Anaiah Davenport, Cassie Douglas, Trey Elgouhary, Alyssa Freeze, Melisa Garcia, Aidan Hetrick, Liza Johnson, Emma Kidder, Charli Light, Marli Miller, Brianna Moore, Jonathan Nelson, Bailey O'Quinn-Clark, Lyndsey Paschall, Elizabeth Penaloza, Ashley Rigney, Rosy Rios, David Rosas, Jasmine Steele, Lili Stetler, Becca Thomas, Addison VanWinkle, Kendra Walden and Addison Welch.
Tickets are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. They cost $10 for adults and $5 for students.
The Church@117 is located at 117 E. Fort St. Parking at the site is limited.