Prince George’s Little Theatre Brings Radio to Bowie PlayhouseBy Laura & Mike Clark • Dec 15th, 2006 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of Prince George’s Little Theatre’s production of Merry Christmas, George Bailey [MP3 4:59 1.4MB].
Mike: Merry Christmas, George Bailey is a 1940′s radio show version of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, based on the book the Greatest Gift. This was a radio show version. Basically you had three microphones at the front of the stage. You had a sound technician over on the one side. You had a folley artist with the sound technician. On the other side of the stgae were a bunch of seats where the cast sat. They had scripts in front of them. When it was their time to do their scene, they would simply come up to a microphone and read their scenes with their other actors. It was actually quite effective even though it was radio. There weren’t a lot of visuals to keep your eye on other than the actors to see what they were doing.
It was really quite an enjoyable evening. For example the opening scene was really funny. The actors were coming on stage to find their seats and, of course, someone was in the wrong seat. That just kind of carried through for a kind of quick probably 30 second little bit. Another point was when the actors were waiting for their turns to go up to the microphone. They stayed in character while they were sitting there and they actually kind of reacted as their character. That showed a nice attention to detail.
Laura: I really liked it. Because it was radio, all of their emotions and all of the thoughts that they were trying to get across had to come across in their words and not in their actions. I think they all did that really well.
Mike: The main character, George Bailey, was played by Rich Fogg. He had a challenging role because he did have to do a lot of different emotions throughoiut the play. The only tool he had was his own body. He couldn’t really rely on any props. He couldn’t rely on any motions of walking across the room or anything because he was tied to using a microphone to talk to the radio audience. So it was really quite effective watching him change. He actually did pat his pocket for example when he was looking for the bell for Zuzu. Actually tasting his lip to se if it was still bleeding. He did that quite well.
Laura: Mary Bailey was played by Meg Yednock. I liked her. Again because there wasn’t a lot of action, it all had to come across in her and her pitch and her inflection. I think she did a really good job. I could hear the anger in her voice as well as the love, when she was getting angry with George and telling him to go away. But at the same time she wanted him to stay because they were destined to fall in love and get married. I really felt that in her dialogue with George Bailey.
Mike: The show was made up of a large cast. There were a total of 16 actors. Many of the actors had more than one role. The roles sometimes were many different ages. Some of the women played men at times. Their voices changed and it was really quite effective. Even though you were probably pretty familiar with It’s A Wonderful Life, you were never quite sure who they were going to be until they started talking. I think all the actors pegged that pretty closely.
There were a few dropped lines which is unfortunate. You do think they’ve got a script how can you mess up a line. You’re not just reading a script when you’re doing reader’s theater. You are acting and that’s just another prop that just happens to have words on there that you’ll be saying. That’s more of a prompt to keep you informed as to what’s going to happen next. But you really have to know the parts.
Laura: The set was nicely put together. Again because this was a radio show, there wasn’t a whole lot of set needed. You had the chairs for the actors to sit on. One nice touch, I thought, they had a carpet down so when the actors came up to read their lines, the carpeting kind of cushioned their footsteps so you didn’t here a lot of the banging when they would go up to say their lines. The costumes I thought were good. Again they could have just worn jeans for that matter because it was a radio program. But they had costumes that were appropriate to the 1940′s.
Mike: The show is an hour and fifteen minutes long. It really was quite enjoyable. If you’re familiar with It’s a Wonderful Life you will enjoy this show. It is a family friendly show. Although you do need to be aware that younger children may not be able to follow what’s going on because there’s not really anything to watch. Just keep that in mind. But I think you’ll have a good time watching Merry Christmas, George Bailey.
Laura: Merry Christmas, George Bailey is playing Friday the 15th and Saturday the 16th at 8 PM. Also Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th at 2 Pm at the Bowie Playhouse in Bowie Maryland.
Mike: And now, on with the show.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/1830.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.