‘Wonderful Life’ comes to life in live radio play

Published: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 5:49 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – The trials of George Bailey and Clarence the Angel will be performed in “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” to be performed the next two weekends at Playhouse 38, 524 W. State St., Geneva.

Lisa Pivaronas, co-director with Charlie Brieger, said the story is performed as the characters are playing characters in a live radio show in 1940s style.

“There are nine actors who play a variety of different roles, except for George and Mary – they are the only ones with one role,”  Pivaronas, of Bartlett, said. 

“We are doing [this] as [if] for a radio audience with 1940s commercial breaks that we have fun with. We have a Foley actor doing sound effects,” Pivaronas said. “And we dress as close to period as we can in 1940s outfits. We have little ‘on air’ and an ‘applause’ signs to involve our audience.”

Although the 75-minute production – with an intermission – is abbreviated, Pivaronas said not much is left out at all.

“These are really great actors who are really fun to watch,” Pivaronas said. “You can see their body language as they get into character. Scott Schafer is our Foley operator, but he also does the voice of Mr. Martini and the man who wants his $242 when there is a run on the bank.”

Schafer, of Batavia, is an employee of the Kane County Chronicle.

Jay Payleitner, 56, of St. Charles, and a radio producer himself, who plays the part of actors who are playing the gentle angel Clarence and the mean-spirited Mr. Potter.

“It’s an interesting dynamic of good and evil,” said Payleitner, who also is husband to St. Charles 2nd Ward Alderman Rita Payleitner.

“Potter is a hunched-over evil old man, ‘Sentimental hogwash.’ And Clarence, ‘Strange, isn’t it, one man’s life touches so many others,’ ” Payleitner said, changing his voice for Clarence and Potter.

John Jepson of Bartlett who plays George Bailey, said he is not trying to emulate actor Jimmy Stewart’s performance from the movie.

“People know the show,” Jepson said. “And I just feel like you need to take the role and develop it on your own.”

Tickets are $14 apiece and available at the Geneva Park District Sunset Community Center, 710 Western Ave. Performances are 7 p.m. Friday; at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 14; 7 p.m. Dec. 20; and at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 21.