It’s a magical movie that’s become a Christmas classic.
And next week a new stage telling of It’s A Wonderful Life comes to Blackpool’s Grand Theatre.
The story of Frank Capra’s iconic film has been recreated as a radio play - complete with sound effects created live on stage - paying tribute to the golden age of the wireless, as well as creating a fresh take on the big screen classic.
For anyone who’s not seen the film, it tells of idealist George Bailey, whose dreams look set to be dashed by small-town scandal and big business.
Alone on a bridge, contemplating life, he decides everyone would be better off without him, and it falls to hapless guardian angel, Clarence, to try to save him.
Acclaimed character actor David Benson takes on four roles in the production, which will make a change from the series of award-winning one-man shows he’s starred in - about characters as diverse as Kenneth Williams and Princess Diana.
He has just starred at the Edinburgh Festival as London Mayor Boris Johnson in The Kingmaker, and completed a 1,000-plus show run in One Man Two Guvnors at the National Theatre and in the West End.
“Our telling of Frank Capraʼs classic 1947 movie Itʼs a Wonderful Life takes the heart of the story and re-tells it as if the audience is watching a live vintage radio broadcast,” he said, of the production. “Sound effects are created onstage during the performance and there are even commercial breaks.
“The set is very simple but beautifully suggests an Art Deco radio studio, with illuminated On Air sign and two period microphones. For us actors, it is also a treat to get into our 1940s suits and frocks – such a pleasure to wear.”
Where the film is known as a weepy, he’s confident those emotions come across just as strongly on stage too.
“By the end, the audience have been awash with emotion, laughter and tears,” he added. “They get all the key elements we remember from the film but with the added element of seeing the actors working hard, changing characters in a flash and telling the story vividly so that every scene change and location is seen clearly in the audienceʼs minds.
“We actors do get very caught up in it all and I think that adds to the audience’s involvement.”
* It’s A Wonderful Life, Grand Theatre, Tuesday and Wednesday, October 13 and 14. Call (01253) 290190 for tickets.”