Orange County Theatre Reviews


Photo Courtesy: StagesTheatre

 Written by Patrick Chavis 

It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play at STAGE theatre in Fullerton hits all the right Christmas-y notes, and something new is added to the classic story– but the fact that the show is more of a history lesson than a staged play leaves the audience a little detached from the heart of the story.

The house was packed, not an empty seat to be found. On the stage were two old radio microphones, a sound station for creating cool effects, and an authentically dressed cast and soundstage ready to tell the classic story. The basic plot outline focuses on a businessman put in deep water by a wealthy and corrupt man. As a result, our hero wishes that he was never born. The Angel (Clarence) grants him this wish, and our hero, George, and the Angel Clarence go on a journey to discover what matters in life. It’s the story of a man who works hard, keeps to his morals, and makes it out well in the end because of his good heart. Very few Christmas stories are as good as “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The play loses me in this radio-style adaption of the play. I don’t feel like a radio show brings anything more to it. I was watching and wishing there was some B-plot between the actors doing the show. Something that made me think these people on stage aren’t just mannequins reciting lines but actual people with real issues right under the surface (wishful thinking). Instead, I received a history lesson on live radio in the 40s, which is fine, but it rarely adds anything for the sake of plot or entertainment value. What made the original live radio show so exciting was you couldn’t see it. The audience had to use every bit of imagination to bring those characters to life–and that’s stronger than any stagnant actor standing on a stage.

There weren’t any stand-out actors; everyone performed well and authentically in their roles. The show is visually exciting but only for so long, and I found myself closing my eyes in an attempt to phase into the audio work this production created on stage. The sound effects and voicing (especially by some of the actors doing multiple voices) are spectacular.

original motion picture


Date & Location :

November 28th – December 28th

StagesTheatre in Fullerton   

400 E. Commonwealth Ave. Fullerton, Ca. 92832


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