Pictured: Ensemble of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre.
By Lucas Crabtree
Though it has been 71 years since the story of George Bailey was introduced to the world, MET’s production of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE has found a way to frame the tale in a fresh perspective and recreate a holiday classic.
Written for the stage by Joe Landry, this version of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE takes place in a radio station named the KMET Playhouse in Kansas City, Missouri with the setting and costumes suggesting the era of the 1940’s. Everything about this production draws you in as an audience member. From the introduction by the radio director informing us we are a live studio audience witnessing a national radio theater broadcast to the actors showing up to work at the station, everything about the opening sets the scene for a fun and engaging experience from start to finish.
Though the actors are performing in front of microphones, there is no emotion or characterization lost in the execution. Jordan Fox, who plays George Bailey, nails this role. His performance is genuine, heart-warming, and technically impressive. The whole ensemble is solid with a few actors playing several roles ranging in nationality, temperament, and vocal quality. This aspect, I thoroughly enjoyed as it was entertaining to see the same actors encapsulate a wide variety of roles and captivating to see the use of props and sound effects utilized in a radio theater production. For instance, when a character walks off, we see the actors on stage clapping two shoes against each other to simulate the appropriate sound.
At an hour and a half running time, the show never feels like it’s dragging. The actors hit all the beats which makes the show flow smoothly while keeping the audience engaged. I highly recommend this show for families, lovers of the classic film, and anyone looking to get into the holiday spirit.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE runs through December 17th. For more information visit metkc.org.