Charming “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” in Franklin, TN

A charming twist on the Christmas classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” opens this Thursday and is presented by the Bethlehem Players, Bethlehem United Methodist Church community theatre troupe, in the Grassland area of Franklin just south of Nashville (2419 Bethlehem Loop Road, Franklin, TN 37069), December 5-8 as well as being re-aired Christmas Eve on Franklin’s hometown radio station, WAKM AM 950 – WAKMWorldWide – for web listening.

Bethlehem Players, Franklin, TN

Written by Joe Landry and directed locally by Johnny Peppers, the iconic production is sponsored by award winning Nashville-based playwrights, Osborne & Eppler. The stage production is inspired by the classic American film,”It’s a Wonderful Lifeand is performed as a 1940s live radio broadcast in front of a studio audience complete with catchy jingles written by the production’s musical director Kandance Peppers with accompaniment by BP’ers favorite “Piano Man” Bryan Ward.

Director Johnny Peppers said the delightful production is a great way to kick off the holiday season and will help underwrite the spring production of “Hello, Dolly!”

“The movie you know and love is recreated as a live old time radio broadcast. Through the magic of theater, we transport you back into the 1940s with the audience becoming the extra cast member,” Peppers said.

“It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” is presented by the Bethlehem Players, December 5-8, at Bethlehem United Methodist Church in the Grassland area of Franklin and includes cast members left to right Bailey kids, Jessica Undis and Natalie Watson of Franklin with radio veteran Pat Reilly, Maggie Pit and Joe Shephard as Uncle Billy, Mary and George Bailey. (Photo by Geinger Hill)

“It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” is December 5-8, at Bethlehem United Methodist Church and includes cast members left to right Bailey kids, Jessica Undis and Natalie Watson of Franklin with radio veteran Pat Reilly, Maggie Pit and Joe Shephard as Uncle Billy, Mary and George Bailey. (Photo by Geinger Hill)

Peppers said tickets are now on sale for “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” at TicketsNashville.com. The large cast for the talented production includes four area radio veterans: Joe Shepherd as George Bailey, Pat Reilly as Billy Bailey, Joseph, Old Man Collins, Martini and Nick, Mark McNulty as Ernie, Freddie Filmore, and Harry Robinson as Henry Potter and Mr. Gower. The other cast members include: Maggie Pitt (Mary Hatch Bailey), Jim Maden (Clarence), Amanda Wright (Matilda), Beth Henderson (Violet Bick, Tommy Bailey), Debbie Robinson (Stage Manager, Foley), Ginny Welles (Rose Bailey, Commercial Trio), Jessica Undis (Young Violet, Janie Bailey), Jim Allen (Harry Bailey, Sam Wainwright, Dr. Campbell, Mr. Welch), Natalie Watson (Young Mary), Preston Crook (Shultz, Horace, Bridgekeeper, Binky, Cop), Stephanie Jackson (Zuzu, Ruth Bailey, Mrs. Hatch, Commercial Trio), Steve Brugman (Peter Bailey, Bert, Ed), Susan Davis (Mrs. Thompson, Sadie Vance) and production musical director Kandace Peppers.

Peppers also pointed out that auditions for the “Hello, Dolly!” are being held Saturday, December 14 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. in the Bethlehem UMC Performing Arts Center. Those auditioning are asked to prepare a one minute comic monologue and 16 bars of a Broadway-style song.  Please bring a head shot and resume and sheet music in the correct key—an accompanist will be provided. To sign up for a five minute appointment, please contact director Dietz Osborne at heydietz@yahoo.com.  Auditionees should be aware that the roles of Dolly Levi and Horace Vandergelder have been cast.  Rehearsals will begin Monday, January 6, 2014.  The show will February 28 – March 8, select days and times. Group sales reservations are now being accepted at drama@bethlehemumc.com with a 10% discount of for groups of 10 or more.

“It’s A Wonderful Life: A Radio Play” is presented December 5, 6, 7 at 7:00 p.m. and December 8 at 2:00 p.m. With limited seating, $10 per person general admission tickets are available via TicketsNashville.com. The production will be re-aired at 9 a.m. on Christmas Eve on WAKM 950 AM and presented by Speedway Motors.

In addition to presenting the play, Bethlehem United Methodist Church also has these seasonal activities taking place at the church and open to the community:

  • Dec. 5-8         It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
  • Dec. 13           A Night in Bethlehem – interactive, family experience taking                                 participants to the place where Jesus was born
  • Dec. 24          Christmas Eve Services 4:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. & 11:00 p.m.

Founded in 1997, the Bethlehem Players have staged for packed audiences two world premiere productions, Southern Fried Funeral and Southern Fried Nuptials, as well as hits like Steel Magnolias, A Bad Year for Tomatoes, Rumors, Fiddler On The Roof, Annie and most recently, Barefoot In The Park. More info, BethlehemUMC.

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About Nancy McNulty

PR & marketing practitioner, wife/mom, writer, tennis player, cook & lover of the arts & pop culture. Began as a Nashville Banner & WMCP Radio Station reporter. Communications grad – Univ.of TN – Knoxville including working at WUTK & The Daily Beacon. Spent two summers interning in Washington, DC w/ one stint in the Majority Leader’s Press Office – “yes, I can give you directions Mr. Kissinger.” Now living, loving & working in Nashville, TN w/ my integrated marketing biz – Forest Home Media.. Love sharing great tips on what to do & where to go with folks via this NanceSense experience blog.Twitter & Instagram @NanceSense & Pinterest@NancyMcNulty

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