By Carson McKinney
Oxford High School Theatre is reimagining a “wonderful” production for local audiences just in time for the holidays. The curtain rises this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Oxford Middle School Kayla Mize Auditorium with broadcasts continuing through Saturday.
A new production for OHS theatre teacher John Davenport, this rendition of “It’s a Wonderful Life” adapts Joe Landry’s “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” and reimagines the 1946 classic film as a group of actors performing the story live on Christmas.
“A small group of actors come in to do a live radio broadcast in 1946,” Davenport said. “Actors stand up to microphones and do the voices and all of the sound effects of all of the characters.”
This rendition of the production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” marks the second theatre performance for OHS Junior Hayden Overby, who plays lead role George Bailey. Overby previously performed as a freshman in a 2017 performance of “12 Angry Men.”
Overby promises that while the show is largely told through sound, there will be engaging visual elements on stage to entertain audiences including coffee breaks through commercial interludes, a cast member secret Santa and live-produced sound effects.
“Our main focus is with the audio and how it sounds because it’s a radio play,” Overby said. “We want to make something that if someone closes their eyes, they can get the full experience.”
OHS Senior Noël Torma, who played lead role Dorothy in OHS’s October production of “The Wizard of Oz,” takes on a different role and goes behind the scenes as this production’s stage manager.
As her first time as stage manager, Torma’s duties include staging and blocking, controlling lights and sound, and creating sound effects for the play.
“Putting together the props for all of the sound effects was fun but also a bit of a hassle for a few of them,” Torma said. “We had to get creative with quite a few of the Foleys, but they ended up being the most fun ones, too. Effects like the 1940s car horn were hard to emulate, so we had to build them out of scraps. We took the whistle of a clown horn and a bamboo pipe, put them together, and with a little breath, there’s a car horn.”
Davenport said unlike “The Wizard of Oz,” this play will be a “feel-good piece,” “inspiring” and appropriate for the holiday season.
“It’s a classic Christmas story and it’s great for the entire family,” Davenport said. “Whereas with ‘The Wizard of Oz’ we had to say, ‘No children please,’ this is the opposite. Bring your children.”