Review: It's A Wonderful Life at TOTS 

**1/2
click to enlarge On the party line in 'It's a Wonderful Life.'
  • On the party line in 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

Wisdom Tooth Theatre at Theatre on the Square, directed by Matthew Socey; Dec. 15-18

Local radio personality and NUVO correspondent Matthew Socey directed and made a cameo appearance in Wisdom Tooth Theatre's latest offering, a radio play rendition of It's A Wonderful Life featuring five actors portraying 46 characters, plus sound engineers creating a buffet of sound effects. Though Socey's director's notes stipulated not to expect "imitations of Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed or Lionel Barrymore... on stage," Anderson student and actor Tristen Rodden captured the warmth of Stewart's George Bailey, sometimes giving spot-on line readings straight from the film.

Overall, the cast did an exceptional job of making the memorable moments of the film their own. Most notably, character actors Kelly Gualdoni and Adam Tran, who together portrayed more than a dozen roles, refreshed the radio drama by uninhibitedly diving into characters both young and old. In doing so, Gualdoni and Tran captured the most exciting part of watching a live radio drama - actors stretching their capabilities through the power of their own voices.

That said, the script, a shorter version of the screenplay, misstepped at moments by relying too heavily on our collective memory of sight gags from the movie. In addition, unrealistic and overly busy on-stage action made it difficult to focus on the voice talent, which was ultimately the most interesting part of the show.

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Katelyn Coyne

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