Subscribe

A pair of ‘Wonderful’ plays

Want to help an angel get their wings? Petaluma artists create two different versions of a classic holiday tale, on a musical, one with sound effects made from household objects.|

<strong id="strong-d98904c109dc6d999c00a24e16d7d137">THINKING OF WATCHING?</strong>

WHAT: “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Musical,” presented by Santa Rosa Junior College

WHEN: Debuts debuts November 27, then runs Nov. 28, and Dec. 4 and 5. All shows at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: This show will stream live on YouTube.

COST: Tickets are in the form of donations to SRJC Theatre Arts.

INFORMATION AND RESERVATIONS: Learn more at TheatreArt.SantaRosa.edu.

WHAT ELSE: “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” presented by 6th Street Playhouse

WHEN: Opens with a weekend of live watch-it-while-it-happens performances November 27-29, then becomes available as a recorded pay-per-view show through the end of December.

COST: Live show virtual seat for one: $15, virtual seats for two: $25, virtual seats for three or more: $50. Pay-per-view show $20.

INFORMATION AND RESERVATIONS: Learn more at 6thStreetPlayhouse.com.

George Bailey is in trouble again.

“It’s a Wonderful Life,” the beloved holiday tale of a generous, self-sacrificing optimist whose run out of hope — and how he learns a life-changing lesson about self-worth and the value of human kindness from a bumbling angel named Clarence — is being retold this holiday season in two very different locally-produced versions, both of them streaming.

One is a musical, the other staged as a 1950s radio show, with sound-effect made from household objects. Each version is being presented with the help of theater artists from Petaluma. In both, the rich-but-bitter Mr. Potter connives and steals, poor old George learns what the world would have been like had he never been born, and a certain angel makes a bell ring by the end of the show.

“2020 has been a difficult year,” says John Shillington, who is directing a new musical version for the Theatre Arts department at Santa Rosa Junior College. “It’s easy to forget that it’s a wonderful life in spite of it all — politics, riots, COVID. This show is a fabulous reminder.”

With a new script and lyrics by Shillington, using melodies composed by Janis Dunson Wilson, the SRJC version will run for four live-streaming performances only, allowing folks from near and far to watch the show on YouTube. Wilson worked on an earlier version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 2001, commissioned by Elly Lichenstein for Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater. In that version, which ran for several holiday seasons here as a youth production before getting an adult cast run in Santa Rosa in 2012, the book and lyrics were by the late Marcy Telles, with whom WIlson collaborated on another Cinnabar musical, “The Tailor of Gloucester,” and who passed away in 2015.

Shillington’s version shakes up the story a bit, beginning in Heaven in 2020, where Clarence is teaching a class to other angels, and tells the story of helping George Bailey back in the 30s and 40s. As a musical being performed on the Zoom platform, Shillington says the show has been challenging but rewarding to put together.

“We are excited to be doing a musical on Zoom,” he says. “We’ve never seen anybody attempt it. We are boldly going where few have gone before.”

Meanwhile, Petaluma’s Carl Jordan is directing the “radio show” version at 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa. Performing on an actual set on a physical stage, the cast — who have created a “bubble” during rehearsals — play an old-time radio acting troupe doing a version of “Wonderful Life” live from the radio station. The production will be performed live three times, with a four-camera crew recording the action, which will then be available as a pay-per-view program from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1.

Adding to the fun, Petaluma’s Trevor Hoffman will be seen on camera creating live radio sounds using practical Foley effects engineered from small opening and closing doors, bells and clackers, and boxes filled with keys and coins.

Sounds pretty “wonderful” to us.

<strong id="strong-d98904c109dc6d999c00a24e16d7d137">THINKING OF WATCHING?</strong>

WHAT: “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Musical,” presented by Santa Rosa Junior College

WHEN: Debuts debuts November 27, then runs Nov. 28, and Dec. 4 and 5. All shows at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: This show will stream live on YouTube.

COST: Tickets are in the form of donations to SRJC Theatre Arts.

INFORMATION AND RESERVATIONS: Learn more at TheatreArt.SantaRosa.edu.

WHAT ELSE: “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” presented by 6th Street Playhouse

WHEN: Opens with a weekend of live watch-it-while-it-happens performances November 27-29, then becomes available as a recorded pay-per-view show through the end of December.

COST: Live show virtual seat for one: $15, virtual seats for two: $25, virtual seats for three or more: $50. Pay-per-view show $20.

INFORMATION AND RESERVATIONS: Learn more at 6thStreetPlayhouse.com.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette