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Michael White, Matt Dennis, Mason Taylor, Misha Harlow and Dominic Corbin celebrate the life of George Bailey.

Photo courtesy of: Jenny LaRue

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Michael White (Charles Seebach and Kenya Hughes, obscured), McKenzie Jenkins, Matt Dennis, Shannon Webb, Tasha Rice, Misha Harlow, Travis Huddleston, and Mason Taylor prepare to go ‘on the air.’

Photo courtesy of: Jenny LaRue

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OUL students prove 'It’s a Wonderful Life'

Innovative show praised by audience


Ohio University's Lancaster campus theater students and director Victor Jones delivered on their promise to entertain and surprise during their performances of "It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" last week.

Choral groups from Fairfield Union and Lancaster high schools and Lancaster Men’s Chorus and cast members readied the audience for the authentic feel of a live radio play.

Mason Taylor, a sophomore communications major and veteran of several theater productions, played George Bailey. He explained that the setting was a 1940s radio studio.

"We’re actors playing actors playing characters in an old radio show," he said.

Wagner Theatre’s stage was transformed into a Manhattan radio studio with microphones and many authentic sound effects.

Cast members eschewed advanced technology and looked for "everything we could to make the sounds," said Charles Seebach, a criminology major, who played Uncle Billy "and a few other roles," he said.

Cast members created the accompanying effects on stage and sang the jingles for the radio play sponsors.

Taylor prepared for his role by thinking of the movie, one of his favorites.

"I wanted to portray [George’s] frustrations and rise above them at the end," said Taylor.

Jones commended Taylor not only for his performance, but for his command of 90 pages of dialogue.

While the cast members held "radio scripts" in their hands, they memorized every part.

 "I wanted the students to engage with the audience. It’s distracting to look down and find your place in the lines of a script," Jones said. "It was a difficult show to produce, and I was very pleased."

While snow was falling outside the Manhattan studio’s windows, the audience was treated to their share of the blizzard. Snow drifted across Wagner Theatre as George Bailey celebrated his life and rejoined his family and friends.

The scenes may have been different, but the "Wonderful Life" message was the same. Jesse Warner, an electronic media major who interviewed the cast, described the play as 'amazing' and imagined the movie version as he watched his fellow students on stage.

"I will certainly be attending every play I can from now on," he said.

The Theater Department’s next production will be Neil Simon’s "Rumors," and will open in March 2012.