Every time a bell rings...

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By Becca Owsley

By BECCA OWSLEY bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com ELIZABETHTOWNGeorge, Clarence, Zuzu and the entire gang will be live on stage Friday and Saturday as the Historic State Theater presents “It’s a Wonderful Life" radio drama. The adaptation, by Don Vest, is a throwback to 1940s radio dramas. People on stage will read lines from a script as if on a live-audience radio broadcast complete with sound effects artists on stage.  Ernest Wayne Holt II, who plays Clarence and the bank examiner, likes that he can read from his script on stage. That way, he doesn't have to memorize his lines. “Having the fear of being 51 and the possibilities of parts diminishing makes me want to go after as many chances to act as I can, and these radio shows give me those chances,” Holt said. Performers will be in 1940s costumes except for a few subtle wardrobe choices to help the audience identify characters. For example, Clarence will wear a white tux, Uncle Billy will wear a disheveled suit and Mr. Potter will don a regal black suit to represent his stature in the town. Sound effects performed on stage will give the audience a chance to see the items used to make sounds such as doors closing, glass breaking and other sounds. “We use as many physical sounds as we can,” Vest said. Some sound effects are trial and error as the sound effects artist attempts to match what is happening on stage. The sound of a rock going through a window at the old Grandville house, for instance, actually has to sound like a rock going through the window and not just glass breaking. Because of the multitude of voices needed in the drama, there is a sizable cast.   “This is the largest cast we’ve had for any show I’ve ever been in with 24 people on stage all at the same time.” Jim Corbit said. “It’s actually a pretty good compromise for a script with about 50 to 60 speaking roles.” Corbit gets to play four parts: Joseph, Mr. Martini, Tom and Marty Hatch. Vest has been impressed with many of the actors’ abilities in their various roles. One actor, Chris Nall, picked up a character at the very first reading and gets it right every time. “He’s absolutely fantastic,” Vest said. Vest feels 8-year-old Madeline Gunn-Beshears sounds just like he thinks Zuzu should sound. Madeline said she has enjoyed working with the cast and has learned valuable lessons about the importance of vocal tones and the expression of feelings when portraying a character. “The reason I wanted to be in this production is because I wanted to interact with people and show girls and boys you can do anything if you set your mind to it,” Madeline said.   Anita Conder is usually the house photographer, but when she learned this year’s drama was “It’s a Wonderful Life,” she knew she had to be a part of it — and not from behind her camera. “I am thrilled to be a part of this production, and to play Mary has been a surreal and magical experience for me,” Conder said. She has been drawn to the story since she first saw the movie as a little girl. She loves "the story of George and his realization that the things of this world matter nothing compared to the relationships with family and friends that we absolutely need to get through this life," Conder said. The relationships in the story are reflected in the relationships with the cast. John Easterling, who plays Uncle Billy, considers other cast members to be like family and is grateful for their patience as he attempts acting. Lisa Holmes plays Mrs. Bailey, and her granddaughter, Victoria Fisher, plays young Violet and Tommy. Victoria has the most fun playing Tommy; she has to hold her nose to read his lines. Holmes wanted to do be a part of this production because it is not like anything she has done before. “It’s such a unique experience for Hardin County to be able to watch and listen to an old-time radio drama and get to experience it,” Holmes said. She believes the story of “It’s a Wonderful Life” expresses the spiritual message of Christmas. No matter who is telling the story or how it's told, Holmes said she feels that as long as the central message of it is the importance of each person on earth, it will hold its charm.



Amanda Healy  Cousin Eunice/Mrs. Davis

Anita Conder — Mary Hatch Bailey

Brandon Stearsman — Sam Wainwright/Ed/Man on Street/Voices

Caleb Shader — Young George/Young Harry/Pete Bailey

Chris Nall — Mr. Gower/Lawyer/Bridge Keeper/Randall/Voices

Constance Darnell — Mrs. Hatch/Mrs. Thompson

Donald J. Endicott — Freddie/Charlie/Voices

Ernest Wayne Holt III — Clarence/Mr. Carter

Howard Yates — George Bailey

Jim Corbit — Joseph/Marty Hatch/Martini/Tom  

John W. Easterling — Uncle Bailey

John Jenkins — Ernie Bishop/Mr. Bailey

Josh Johnson — Harry Bailey/Nick/Dr. Campbell/Voices

Kelly Covell — Young Mary/Janie/Voices

Kelly Easton — Mr. Potter/Sheriff

Lisa Holmes — Mrs. Bailey

Madeline Gunn-Beshears — Zuzu

Mary Endicott — Jo/Hazel the Teller/Voices

Rebekah Ankrom — Violet/Voices

Tabitha Douglas — Annie/Cousin Tilly/Voices

Tony Miller  — Franklin/Bert/Grumpy Old Man/Mr. Welch

Victoria Fischer — Young Violet/Tommy/Voices

William Vest — Host/Pinky/Principal Partridge


Kristie Deweese — Lighting Engineer

Kristie Flammia — Asst. SFX Artist

Rebekah Ankrom — Costume Designer/Stage Mgr.

Tony Miller — SFX Artist

Tommy Davis — Sound Engineer

William D. Vest III — Director


The stage presentation of "It's a Wonderful Life" radio drama, sponsored by the Historic State Theater, will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Plum Alley Theater. Tickets are $10. For more information call (270) 234-8258.    ON THE RADIO A recording of "It's a Wonderful Life" will be broadcast at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 13 and 24 on Quicksie 98.3 and the Wulf 94.3. The radio presentation is a seperate production and was recorded Nov. 16 using the same cast members as the Historic State Theater presentation. “Going in studio session is exhausting but so rewarding,” Quicksie radio personality Hollie Sexton said. “As a producer, it thrills me to hear these beloved characters come to life on radio."  Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.