“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” opens at the Van Wert Civic Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” opens at the Van Wert Civic Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – The world of live 1940’s radio will come to the Van Wert Civic Theatre this weekend through the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This interpretation of the well-known movie will come as a live radio play version.

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play is based on the classic holiday movie with a clever twist thrown in: the story is staged as a live radio broadcast. Actors portray numerous characters, and sound effects are done through various artists.

It’s a Wonderful Life is about the life of George Bailey, a generous and well-meaning man who has become too downcast and tired to continue living. Eventually, it will take help from a lovable angel to show George what life would be like if he wasn’t born for George to have a change of heart and understand the true spirit of the holidays.

Jan Miller, assistant director in charge of the production, described the event as a, “throwback to live radio days of the 40’s.”

“The radio studios in the 1940’s had on-air lights and applause signs,” said Miller. “The audience came to live radio programs to participate.”

“What a better way to celebrate Christmas than to travel back in time to the era of radio plays and small town values,” continued Miller. “The cast of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’ is gearing up to send you back in time.”

“This play involves a radio performance much like what would have occurred before the age of television when families gathered round the radio to hear their favorite stories told by actors performing live in a studio,” Miller added. “Audiences will watch the production of a live radio play and hear the beloved story of George Bailey while being transported back in time.”

Miller said that an aspect of the production that has always fascinated viewers has been the sound effect actors. In the case of Wonderful Life, said Miller, two people sit in front of a table and produce the sound effects for the production.

“This follows the original movie to the letter,” said Miller. “It takes place on Christmas Eve.”

George Bailey is played by popular local actor Joe Maurer and his wife, Mary Bailey, is played by Emily Gehle.

The production will take place Thursday, Nov. 30 through Saturday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. Additional performances will take place next weekend on Thursday, Dec. 7 through Saturday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $13. For information call the box office from 2-6 p.m. through Saturday at 419-238-9689.