Presented by: Wings2Fly Theatre
Reviewed: 13 July 2019
Wings2Fly are a relatively new youth theatre group who specialise in dramatic pieces, helping fill a gap in the somewhat saturated youth theatre arena in Adelaide. Directors Michelle Nightingale and Alicia Zorkovic are renowned performers and educators and the young people who work with them are very fortunate indeed.
This production of It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play was put together in just 6 days as an intensive school holiday program and what they have achieved is simply astounding. As part of the process the cast participated in workshops highlighting voice, characterisation, headshot photography, hair and make-up. The result is a professional standard production, thoroughly enjoyed by the audience of family and friends and worthy of a wider audience.
On entering the auditorium, you quite literally walk across the 1940s set, complete with four vintage microphone stands, an array of devices to produce the relevant sound effects and a beautifully costumed cast of young actors pushed from their comfort zones into mingling with the audience, in full character.
It’s a Wonderful Life is a familiar story to anyone who has seen the 1946 Frank Capra-directed classic film starring the late great James Stewart but this clever interpretation gifts the audience with added humour and nostalgia at the action within the action.
As a radio play, the cast hold scripts in hands but their use of them as prompts is minimal and it is clear they have still done the work to prepare their lines. The clever on-stage sound effects with radio age ‘technology’ in full view of the audience, an “On Air” and “Applause” sign and benches for the actors to sit on between their scenes all contribute to creating the ‘radio studio’. Despite the minimal set this production is visually striking with stunning period costumes, hair, make up and period props. However, it’s when closing one’s eyes you really appreciate how adept the cast are at switching between characters, inserting the timely and effective sound effects, maintaining the pace, projecting their voices and telling this heart-warming story.
This is an ensemble production and all the young performers give excellent performances. Mention must be made of Georgia Polischko as Frannie Filmore who launches us into and out of the ON AIR segments with confidence that belies her years; Ethan Schembri who successfully captures the range of emotions of the honest, beleaguered good guy George Bailey and Zachary Haarsma as the amusing, bumbling and affable Uncle Billy.
This is good theatre, excellent training and wonderful entertainment that leaves you smiling broadly as you emerge into the dark wet evening. Sadly, the season is short but on the back of this production I’d recommend you catch their next.
Reviewed by Trish Francis
One day only – season ended