Artistic Director Andrew Gall Reveals Why He Chose It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play for Parkway Playhouse Season

Gall_photoConfession:  I have never once seen the movie It’s A Wonderful Life.  When I have admitted this people react with the same incredulity that I associate with some sort of shocking personal revelation that calls into question my authenticity as an American; like “my parents were Russian spies”.

So when I finally got around to reading Joe Landry’s adaptation of this famous story, I was seeing something brand new.  A story about personal discovery and reinvention; A story about finding the joy in the simplicity that comes with doing the right thing.  A story about being in love with your family and having purpose, and that being fulfilling… and I totally “got it”.
Additionally, the whole show is told by actors in the format of a 1940’s era radio drama.  Which means that it is the story that takes center stage and the need to replicate Bedford Falls, the fictional town in the story, can be a construct of the audience’s own imagination; the live sound effects enhancing both the story and the retro vibe.
Not having seen the movie has freed me to make the story simple and intimate- unencumbered by the performances in the iconic film.  I often lose myself in moments in rehearsal considering the characters and story; I think about my wife and family, and do they know how much I appreciate and love them;  I think about my friends and co-workers and do I reciprocate the support they give me each day;  I think about my community and  how grateful I am for the security I have to be myself and have a way to meaningfully contribute to its betterment…..
Then someone drops a cue and I immediately snap back into rehearsal/director mode.
I think it is perhaps to my benefit that I never saw the film.  I say this personally,  as I think its message would have been lost on me.  As an adult, it has struck a chord, and I can see why people return to this story as a way of  reconsidering the simple, but wonderful things that we take for granted.
Artistically, I am happy that we are able to offer this story in an innovative way that will give our audience a chance to hear it, literally, from a different perspective.
Finally, at this time of year, I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas; Happy Chanukah, a Festive Kwanzaa- however your celebrate…  and that you and you and your family, your friends and loved ones will have experience peace, love, and happiness in the coming year.

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Parkway Playhouse, located in the Appalachian town of Burnsville, NC, is a haven of theatre talent. While people come to the mountains to get away, Parkway Playhouse is a natural gathering place to connect. Likewise, we are an extension of traditional mountain talents: singing, dancing, and, foremost, storytelling. By giving rise to energetic new voices and through a wide variety of plays and musicals, we invite our audience into experiences that are thought-provoking, adventurous, and entertaining. Together we reimagine the world in every live performance, creating dynamic conversations that last far beyond the curtain call. This blog is will feature stories, helpful information, insight and features about the performances.

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