Eternal Christmas favourite, seasonal winter warmer and all-time feel-good film “It’s a Wonderful Life” was brought to life again, courtesy of the Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company.
Colne’s favourite old theatre in New Market Street was the perfect setting for the one night only live radio play of Frank Capra’s iconic 1946 film.
Appreciative theatre-goers were transported back to an American radio station where an eclectic cast of performers gathered to re-tell the story on radio, a time when the wireless was still in its heyday.
The role of George Bailey, played so memorably on film by Hollywood legend James Stewart, was reproduced in this “radio” version by Jake Laurents, or to give him his Pendle name, Blue Blezard.
Blue, in his second outing for Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company, was outstanding,in the main role as the sensitive, down-on-his-luck George, whose life, literally, is transformed by the arrival of guardian angel Clarence, played with a sweet assurance by Ken Horsfield.
Theatre veteran Ken, like much of the cast, took on an array of roles in the production, switching voices and parts at a dizzying speed. Indeed, roles ranged from a five-year-old little girl to a 293-year-old angel.
David Riley, Darren Williams, Jessica Balderstone, Richard Sanderson, Jill Harrison and Marina Butterworth completed the talented cast with note-perfect accents and performances.
An element of humour was introduced into proceedings in the form of 1940s radio advertisements which helped to create that feeling of watching and listening to a live radio play.
And true to the 1940s feel, special mention must also be made to the inventive sound effects created on stage, right in front of the audience’s eyes, by Orm Green and Helen Spencer.
Director Stevan Manley said: “One of the main highlights of re-creating a 1940s radio play has been developing the live sound effects that bring the story to life.
“We tried to use where possible, the original methods of creating the sound effects, doors opening and closing, thunder, wind etc, as I felt that the sound effects were just as important as the lines in the play. This enabled the audience to ‘visualise’ the story as it unfolded.
“The real lesson of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is that what you think you want out of life and how we spend our days in it, may not be nearly as important as the vital layers accumulating within you, hidden in plain sight. Love for friends and family, the decency we exchange with those around us, the value of not doing ‘great things’ but small things in a great way. Those are life’s moments inscribed in our heart.”
A complimentary warm mince pie and mulled wine before the show, courtesy of the society, added to the warm glow that this timeless story always produces.
Clarence famously “earns his wings” in one of the most emotional and iconic closing scenes ever set to celluloid, and there is no doubt that this impressive Pendle cast earnt theirs with this fabulous production.
Visit www.phtheatre.co.uk for more information on future productions.