ISU Theatre to perform re-imagined ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ at Fisher Theater

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” is a play within a play. It features 1940s characters presenting “It’s a Wonderful Life” live for a radio audience. 

Averi Baudler

An adaptation of the beloved American holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” will be making its way to Iowa State’s Fisher Theater to kick off the start of December and the Christmas season.

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” takes Frank Capra’s familiar story of George Bailey and gives it a fresh new feeling by telling the tales of his life through a live 1940s radio broadcast. 

Levi Miller, a senior majoring in industrial design, plays the lead role of George Bailey and says that this show will take audiences on a heartwarming and emotional journey. 

“It’s a Wonderful Life is about George, a selfless man and loving father, who has made many sacrifices for others throughout his life,” Miller said. “Times get really tough for George and he considers ending his life early because he feels like his back is against the wall.”

George Bailey is then saved by an angel who shows him what life would be like for the ones he loves if he were to never have been born.

Miller said that the biggest difference between this play and other plays that Iowa State has done in the past is that “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a radio show as opposed to a traditional play.

Normally, this show would be set in the town of Bedford Falls, but this version is on set of a radio show that is putting on ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” Miller said. “It’s a different take on the classic story and gives you insight on how they used to put on a show when radio was popular.”

Miller claims that though he has enjoyed playing the role of George, it has been a challenge to give the character dimension using only his voice.

“The biggest challenge hasn’t necessarily been with George himself, but rather working with my vocal range and variety to make the character come to life,” Miller said. “Learning how to portray emotions with very little movement was the biggest challenge for me, but it was a fun challenge because I haven’t had a lot of experience with straight up vocal work.”  

Members of the cast and crew believe that this show is one that will especially resonate with the multitudes of people who grew up watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” each and every Holiday season.

Director of the show, Egla Birmingham Hassan, is just one of the many who have heard the story year after year.

“I have enjoyed watching the Frank Capra movie every Christmas season,” Hassan said. “This production process has allowed me to collaborate with a group of enthusiastic and committed young artists in finding new ways to share an important old message.”

Miller also grew up with the movie, and enjoys the fact that he is able to connect to the show and the lessons on a deeper level. 

“I grew up watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life during the Christmas season with my family,” Miller said. “It’s really cool to actually act in it and be a part of it on a closer level than most people get to be.”

Whether you are familiar with the story or have never heard of it before, Miller says that “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” is a show that you will not want to miss.

“People should definitely see this show because it shows how important life is and how important people in your life are,” Miller said. “George goes on an incredible journey and there’s a lot to learn from his story.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday with additional evening performances Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8. Matinee performances will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday and at 2 p.m. Dec. 9. All performances are in Fisher Theater in Ames.

Tickets are available through the Iowa State Center Ticket Office, all Ticketmaster locations or the Fisher Theater box office prior to performances. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and $11 for students.