Relive the Golden Era of Radio with this Holiday Favorite!

It's a Wonderful Life

This is the Seventh Installment in our popular Live Radio Play Series and director, David Burmedi,  strives to stage it with the maximum of authenticity.

NEAT: David, what is your special relationship to IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE?

David Burmedi: It’s A Wonderful Life was the last play I performed at the Roadside Theater in Heidelberg.  It was a radio play – we had the scripts right there in our hands (?!) – and we could dive into the character work without fear of dropping a single line.  And what characters!  I played Clarence, nickel-plated angel, sent to Earth to save a man from killing himself.  I played wicked old Potter and the affable, n’er-do-well Uncle Billy.  My daughter who was 17 years old at the time and produced sound effects live onstage, did my make-up every night.  She did it early, because it took me about a half hour afterwards to tie that bowtie.

In a fundamental way, this play transformed my thinking about the theater.  A well-written radio play – to my mind – is a consummate form of entertainment.  The studio set carries the audience back to a time that most of us remember fondly.  The actors, in classic attire, feel like Hollywood stars as soon as they hit the stage.  And when the “ON AIR” light starts blinking, the audience is on the edge of their seats before the story even begins.

And the stories from yesteryear!  As those of us who predate YouTube know, a story told around the campfire, or read from a book, engages its audience the way that the visual media can’t.  It draws in the listener and forces him or her to partake in a flight of imagination.  It’s a journey of their own making.  Nothing pre-fabricated, no painting by the numbers, not my way or the highway.  This is the real deal.  This is your story as much as it is mine, because a story needs a listener as much as a teller.

Producing live sound effects is like putting on a magic show.  And like most magic tricks, once you see how they’re done, you cannot believe how simple it is.  That’s exactly what a Foley Artist does:  he takes you behind the scenes and shows you how audio-magic done.  And with such flair, that you soon realize you’re getting 2 shows for the price of 1!

And finally, radio shows are unbridled joy for the character actor.  Stories told on the radio were notorious for indulging any number of colorful characters – and why not?  On the radio, the action is not restrained by change in costume or set.  Anything goes.  Find an actor with the versatility to shine in multiple roles, to change from a man to a child in the space of a breath, and you’ll teach the audience a lesson in vocal acrobatics.  It is a small miracle that will send them home saying, “Now that’s theater!”


Performances –

Monday, December 2. at 20:00 hrs in MERLIN

Thursday, December 5. at 20:00 hrs in THEATER AM OLGAECK

Wednesday, December 11. at 20:00 hrs in THEATER AM OGAECK

Monday, December 16. at 20:00 hrs in MERLIN

Saturday, December 21. at 20:00 hrs im THEATER AM OLGAECK


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