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Review of Taproot’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

The following review is by neighborhood resident Laura Genoves, who reguarly reviews theater and arts for the Phinney Neighborhood Center’s ‘Phinney Ridge Review.’ Thanks to Laura for letting us reprint it here.

Christmas often harkens back to the good ‘ole days. Today, nostalgia for an old-fashioned holiday fills the airwaves, sweetened by songs of candy canes and gingerbread men. In the 1940’s the airwaves were also crackling with radio plays, and many families gathered round to listen to the dramas read live on the air.
The most recent production from The Taproot Theater, “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” transforms the theater at North Seattle Community College to a radio station complete with audience applaud signs and actors bustling about as they read their lines. Forced to scramble for a new venue after the recent arson fires in Greenwood, Taproot has worked some holiday magic to bring this production to the stage. Originally “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol” had been slated for production during the holiday season. Fortunately, “It’s a Wonderful Life” lends itself well to a short production period since actors read from their scripts as they naturally would if they were involved in a true radio drama. Solid acting talent by all performers strengthens this performance, particularly Jesse Notehelfer who graces the stage with both her singing voice and thespian skill.

(Grant Goodeve, Candace Vance and Eric Riedmann. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.)

As always, Sarah Burch Gordon outfits the company in both eye catching and historically appropriate costumes. In this instance, the actresses sparkle with festive forties style. The sound effects for the radio play are performed live by Eric Riedmann. He does a fabulous job of making the sounds lively and entertaining to watch.
Younger audiences unfamiliar with the Frank Capra movie, may find it difficult to keep up with the rapid introduction of the assorted characters in the play. However most adults, particularly those with a penchant for A Prairie Home Companion, will find this production high on their list of must sees this season.

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” runs through Dec. 30. More information and tickets available here.