Theater Group Puts 1940s Spin on “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Heritage Theatre Group stages "It's a Wonderful Life Radio Play."

Catch the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” this weekend as a 1940s era radio play.

Heritage Theatre Group is staging the popular holiday film as a radio broadcast, “It’s A Wonderful Life Radio Play,” by Joe Landry.

You can catch the production on Friday, Dec. 8 and Saturday, Dec. 9 at Books & Mortar’s new location, at 442 Bridge St NW, found in the back of the new Sparrows Coffee shop.

“Due to the nature of the space, we’ll all be on the same level. The play moves pretty quickly, with two commercial breaks and an intermission,” said Krista Pennington, director and sound effects.

She said five actors from Heritage Theater Group make up the play’s cast.

Shane German, who plays Clarence, said he loves the idea of “taking this beloved holiday classic and performing it as it would have been done back in the 1930s and 1940s.”

“Radio hours and radio productions were the main form of entertainment for many households before televisions became commonplace,” he said. “It makes you almost wish you were curled up by the fire and listening to your old fashion radio and enjoying a live radio show with your family.”

Buddy Haskill, member of the male ensemble, said he thinks audiences will enjoy the unique take on a beloved story.

“Even outside of the nostalgia factor, the themes of life and death, love and loss, and what it means to be successful still resonate,” he said. “I’m hopeful that seeing a familiar story in a new medium will make those themes feel more immediate than they might the 46th time you watch the movie.”

The Books & Mortar location allows for seating up to 60. Purchase tickets.

Heritage Theatre Group was founded in 1990 to “bring classic theatre to Grand Rapids.” It performs its main stage season in the summer at the Spectrum Theatre at Grand Rapids Community College with additional productions throughout the year staged in a variety of nontraditional spaces.

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