“It’s a Wonderful Life” as a Radio Play is Holiday Gift from TheatreWorks

Silicon Valley group puts new spin- Live and Online- on classic celebrating 75th anniversary

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Joe Landry is taking the iconic story of George Bailey from the classic 1946 movie and offering a new and exciting format via TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.

Recall in this tale of love, loss, and redemption, Bailey considers ending his life on Christmas Eve, opting to give up his dreams to serve as benevolent business leader in small town USA (Bedford Falls). Spoiler alert: Bailey’s guardian angel, “Clarence” – still earning his wings – arrives to convince Bailey that his suicide plan will hurt others far more than himself. That’s the classic tale Landry is offering us but he’s telling this story as a radio play with five actors taking on multiple roles.

Moses Villarama as George

Directed by Giovanna Sandelli, this production previews Live at the Lucie Stern Theater in Palo Alto on December 3 and opens December 4. For anyone “in the know,” this annual holiday favorite would usually take place at the Stanford Vintage Movie House. Note that it will also be available to anyone to view at home, online, beginning December 11.🎁

Leading this new take on an old classic will be Moses Villarama (as George Bailey), a seasoned stage actor who will be making his debut as a radio actor. You might remember Villarama from a prior TheatreWorks production, Writing Fragments HomeSarita Ocon (playing George Bailey’s wife and other roles), also with multiple stage credits, including ACT, Cal Shakes, and Berkeley Rep, also makes her radio debut.

Sarita Ocon in character

Luisa Sermol will play Violet Bick, the woman Bailey “saves,” Zuzu (the youngest Bailey child), and six other characters. Sermol holds stage credits with TheatreWorks and others, and also has had roles on national television shows such as Grimm.

Phil Wong, another TheatreWorks alum (Four Immigrants, and Currency (online) ), will play WBFR Manhattan radio announcer extraordinaire, Freddie Fillmore, the hard-hearted Mr. Potter, the grieving Mr. Gower, and also the evening’s emcee.

Todd Cerveris as Harry “Jazzbo” Haywood

Todd Cerveris, all the way from Broadway (South Pacific and Twentieth Century) makes his TheatreWorks debut as Harry “Jazzbo” Heywood and guardian angel “Clarence.” His main role as one of Hollywood’s favorite funnymen, Harry, he’s described as also “heavenly as Clarence Odbody and a host of other memorable Bedford Falls residents.”

This terrific production reminds of the important need from our Entertainment sector to portray hope in the midst of chaos, goodness in the midst of evil, and community and care for one another in a time when a pandemic would have us scrambling to point fingers at and blame others.

🎁🎁🎁Check the website theatreworks.org for any promotional offers!🎁🎁🎁

Please support Live theater- especially during this critical time- by coming out to the Lucie Stern Theater.

For any of us home-bound, disabled, or otherwise unable to get to the show, again, yes- online tickets are available. Please be generous! Then get out the popcorn, fire up the hot cocoa, settle in and let the Christmas-ing at home begin! 

Luisa Sermol as Lana Sherwood


Todd Cerveris

Sarita Ocon

Luisa Sermol

Moses Villarama

Phil Wong

Cassidy Brown (understudy)

Melissa Wolfklain (understudy)

Adaptation:                Joe Landry
Direction:                   Giovanna Sardelli

Costume Design:       Cathleen Edwards

Scenic Design:          Christopher Fitzer
Lighting Design:        StevenB. Mannshardt
Stage Manager:         Taylor McQuesten
Casting:           Jeffrey Lo
Sound Design:           Jane Shaw
Artistic Direction:       Tim Bond
Executive Director:     Phil Santora

Phil Wong as Freddie Fillmore

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
Previews at Lucie Stern Auditorium, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, on December 3, 2021, at 8:00pm

Opening Night at Lucie Stern Auditorium, Palo Alto, on December 4, 2021

Online viewing availability begins on December 11, 2021

Regular Performances after Opening:

Tuesdays at 7:30pm, Wednesdays at 2:00pm and 7:30pm
Thursdays at 8:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Sundays at 2:00pm and 7:00pm

For Tickets- both Live at the Lucie Stern Auditorium and Online, please visit TheatreWorks.org or call 877/662-8978.

More information, theater office, direct number: 650/463-1960.

TheatreWorks’ Vision:

TheatreWorks is an artistic community of excellence and integrity, committed to dramatic and musical theatre of outstanding professional quality. Embracing the creation of new works, the reinvigoration of the classics, and the arts education of new generations, our work exemplifies our region’s values of inclusion and innovation while providing a sense of place and community. The San Francisco Bay Area is the prototype of an evolving America of ever-increasing diversity. As we explore this changing world, our art must enhance the American theatre with new vision, revealing both who we are and what we might become.  

TheatreWorks’ Core Values:

  • Artistic Excellence: Create theatre art of the highest quality and integrity.
  • Diversity: Reflect the diversity of our community in both our process and our art.
  • Innovation: Explore what is new to create exceptional art.
  • Involvement: Engage ourselves and our community in our art.
  • Collaboration: Combine the individual energy of many to achieve the collective art of all.
  • Celebrate the Human Spirit: Explore the truth of who we are and the potential of what we might become.

NoteIf you like the theme of helpers who are “imperfect,” you might like a film called Cupid for Christmas featuring actor Richard Kind as Cupid who is frantically trying to retire since his one “pick” to succeed him (played by Melanie Stone) is, mercifully said, less than perfect. And if you like films with the element of angels “flawed” with human frailty (in this case, falling in love with a human) catch Angel Falls Christmas (Hallmark; John-Eliot Jordan & Carlie Mantilla; directed by Jerry Ciccoritti) free online.

Images courtesy of publicist for TheatreWorks and used with permission for pre-performance promotion.

About Michele Caprario 80 Articles
Michele Caprario is a writer and editor covering great people, places, and projects that bring goodness to the world.

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