The local acting troupe is turning to the radio to produce a Christmas classic starting this weekend.
Montana Actors’ Theatre opens playwright Joe Landry’s “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” in the Little Theatre at Montana State University-Northern Friday.
The play is based on the 1946 movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in which Stewart’s character, George Bailey, decides he is a failure and contemplates suicide, until he is shown what life would have been like without him.
The play tells the story of a group of live radio actors in the 1940s performing a production of the movie in front of a radio studio audience, with the small cast — the original script called for five actors, the MAT production has seven — performing multiple roles as they act and produce the sound effects for the show.
The cast who has rehearsed the Havre production is Casey Pratt, Luke Pratt, Angela Pratt, Mary Kaercher, Patrick Ulano, Rachel Dean and Jordan Lamphier. Andi Daniel is directing the show.
Landry writes on his website that the show is a transmogrification of his 1986 original stage adaptation of the film.
He adapted the film for a high school production at the request of a teacher friend of his for the production of her high school thespians. After it was produced by several groups, a professional troupe started working on the play.
The troupe canceled production, Landry writes, because of the cost of literally producing the movie version on stage. He then began working on staging the show as a live radio broadcast.
Originally performed in 1996 at the Stamford Center for the Arts, Landry writes, the play was fine-tuned and generally adapted into its final form during productions there.
The MAT productions start at 8 p. m. this weekend, Friday and Saturday, in the Little Theatre on the west end of Cowan Hall. The doors and the backstage lounge open at 7:30 p. m.
The productions continue through the holiday season, with the curtain rising at 8 p. m. Thursday through Saturday Dec. 13-15 and 20-22, and 2 p. m. matinees set for Sunday productions Dec. 16 and 23.
Ticket prices are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors, with Northern students gaining free admission with a valid student identification card.