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Monday, January 24, 2022

A version of the TheaterWorks holiday classic, Wonderful.

Just five incredibly versatile actors will be able to create theatrical magic in the enchanting production of Silicon Valley TheaterWorks “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Show,” on December 26 at the Lucy Stern Theater in Palo Alto.

The play slowly begins with a blank-faced young man wandering around a set, most of which is covered in sheets. But he suddenly comes to life when radio announcer Freddie Fillmore (the multi-talented Phil Wong) starts singing and playing the piano.

It is then that large neon signs light up, first with the words “On the Air” and then with a request for applause (the audience obeyed at the premiere). This sets the mood for the adaptation of a screenplay by Joe Landry, which turns the 1946 film into a 1940s radio play that draws heavily on Foley’s sound effects, which in this production are performed on stage by actors, mostly with two women. actors.

Creatively directed by TheaterWorks partner artist Giovanna Sardelli in beautiful 1940s-era costumes by Kathleen Edwards, this Life has a lot in common, including a dazzling variety of actors. Artist-painter Christopher Fitzer offers a versatile two-tiered set.

It takes a while to warm up Moses Villarama as George Bailey because he’s almost too understated in his opening scenes. Villiarama gradually builds his characterization, so that by the end of the play he embodies every person who gives so much to help others.

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The other two actors, Wong and Todd Cerveris, feature flamboyant characters in various roles. In addition to being a radio announcer, Wong portrays the villainous Mr. Potter and then switches him to one of George’s three young children.

Equally adorable is Cerveris, who transforms from Bailey’s other child into Clarence’s gentle guardian angel, eager to earn his wings.

Sarita Okon, who plays George Mary’s love interest, also handles most of Foley’s sounds, which means she’s constantly running around the stage to deal with this chore. She is aided and abetted by Louise Sermol, who also plays Violet. Unfortunately, the acoustics of Lucie Stern are such that some of these sound effects are barely audible to part of the audience.

On screen or on stage, “It’s a Wonderful Life” still brings tears to audiences, whether they are familiar with Bedford Falls, the Bailey Building, and the loan in it.

Live performances will continue until December 26, and streaming video is also offered. Ticket prices start at $ 30; on-demand streaming tickets are $ 25. There are COVID-19 protocols for in-person attendance. For more information and tickets visit www.theatreworks.org.

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