Borough theatre puts twist on holiday classic

The Phoenix Stage Company is presenting 'It's a Wonderful Life' as a live radio play the next two weekends. - CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — The Phoenix Stage Company is taking a new twist on a classic Christmas tale. The theatre at 686 Rubber Avenue is presenting “It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play” just in time for the holidays.

The show recasts the 1946 drama about a well-intentioned businessman who contemplates suicide as a radio play set in a studio from that era.

“The audience is the live studio audience in the radio show,” explained Ed Bassett, one of the theatre’s three founders.

Each of the 10 actors in the casts plays six or seven different roles, changing character using voice and posture rather than costumes.

The show is directed by Ian Diedrich, who also directed the young theatre’s first play, “Bleacher Bums.”

Bassett said the theatre decided to play “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a staged radio play because of the size of the small theatre.

“We don’t have the ability to do large shows with large casts and a lot of set changes,” Bassett said. “It’s perfect for this theatre and a good format for us.”

He said the play was well-received opening weekend, even though it was Thanksgiving weekend. He said the Phoenix planned a three-week run for the show, knowing the first weekend might be slow.

“I was really, really pleased with the turnout,” Bassett said.

The cast is well-known in local theatre circles, with half returning to the Phoenix after recent shows and a staged reading of “12 Angry Men.” The other five members of the cast have never performed at the Phoenix, but have played locally at the Clockwork Repertory Theatre in Oakville and the Thomaston Opera House.

Performances of “It’s a Wonderful Life” will continue this weekend and next weekend, Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. with matinees Dec. 4 and 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the box office Wednesday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. by calling
(203) 632-8546.