‘It’s A Wonderful Life’: Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey Explores Live Radio Magic

Photo credit: Jerry Dalia, The Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey

“We begin our story in the little town of Bedford Falls, New York, U.S. of A…”

The beloved Frank Capra film is embedded in our cultural DNA. Released in 1946, “It’s a Wonderful Life” became an instant classic and has become a viewing right of passage for families during the Christmas holiday.

This December, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey offers the iconic tale told as a live radio play. Adapted by Joe Landry and directed by Doug West, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” is set in a 1940s radio station. “Replete with Foley sound effects, commercials from the era, and sprinkled throughout with a generous dose of music and humor, this charming piece brings the famous story to life in a new way and fills the theatre with the inspiring spirit of the holidays,” as described by STNJ.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” has a history of radio adaption. Leading actors James Stewart and Donna Reed reprised their film roles for two radio versions in 1947 and a broadcast in 1951.

The production provides a valuable opportunity to revisit a vintage story within the context of the vintage medium of radio.

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” runs through Sunday, December 31 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Avenue in Madison, N.J. Visit the website for performance and ticket information.