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Criterion Theatre preview: It's A Wonderful Life

It's A Wonderful Life, Criterion, Coventry, Nov 30-Dec 7.

It is Christmas Eve 1946, and in a studio at the New York radio station WBFR, five actors have gathered for a live broadcast of the Christmas story It's A Wonderful Life.

Between them, they have 51 parts to play, while their two-man technical team must create more than 60 different sound effects, live. And then there's the commercial break to consider. To satisfy the sponsors, ads have to be performed and jingles sung and the timing has to be perfect.

Joe Landry's 2006 stage play presents a huge challenge for the actors, who have to be versatile, energetic and agile, and for a sound team who need to work - in full view of the audience - to create an extraordinary range of live effects, from cracking ice to jumping in a river.

Director Richard Warren said: "There are quite a few stage versions of It's A Wonderful Life that tell the story straight, but Landry's play takes a different and very theatrical take on it.

"It presents the whole story with just five actors, a studio manager, and in our production, two 'live' sound operators. So it's also an affectionate tribute to the golden age of radio, and the way stories were told before cameras filled in the pictures."

For tickets call 024 7667 5175 or go to:

Picture: Cast members Chris Firth and Debra Relton-Elves

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