Local actors with Snake River Radio Players present ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’
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IDAHO FALLS — The Snake River Radio Players are taking to the stage at Trinity United Methodist Church in Idaho Falls this week to present their new production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The play tells the story of George Bailey and the impact he had on so many people in his community of Bedford Falls. It’s an inspiring holiday story full of humor and heart that the whole family can enjoy.
The Radio Players tell this story in the style of a 1940s radio drama, through voice acting and sound effects but without the typical sets and other visual elements employed by the average stage play. It’s a unique challenge that rewards its actors in some surprising ways.
“Voice acting is a different skill set than stage acting in that you really have to rely almost entirely on what you can do vocally,” Heather Goodworth, who plays Mary Bailey, told EastIdahoNews.com. “You don’t have all the props and stage acting components or live-action stuff that you can lean on in a stage production.”
“I usually count on being ridiculously energetic,” said Matt Larsen, who plays George Bailey. “Doing big motions and big dances and big silly things and getting laughs and reactions that way. I can barely standstill. I don’t do it very well. Trying to stand still and use my voice for expression – it’s a challenge.”
The actors said that the play is the result of experimenting with different ideas during rehearsals to see what works.
“A lot of it is trying new things and seeing what Tasha Bere (the director) likes and what felt right,” Larsen said. “We’ll try things happy or sad or mad or yelling and she’ll tell you ‘That was great’ or ‘That was terrible, never do that again.’”
It’s also a result that tends to come together pretty quickly, instead of the longer rehearsal periods associated with full stage plays.
“Theater takes a lot of time,” Goodworth said. “Radio theater tends to be a shorter run than a stage production because it really is just voice acting. So, instead of working on a play for three months, four months, six months, you’re on it for several weeks.”
The stripped-down approach the Radio Players take to their productions often requires cast and crew members to play multiple roles. Larsen and Goodworth said seeing the range and versatility of their fellow Radio Players is a real treat.
“It’s fun watching (foley artist) Terri (Zora) do voices and then do all the sound effects,” said Larsen. “She does all the foley and then she’s piping in with a voice. It’s funny because I do one part in the show.”
“We have it easy,” added Goodworth. “We do one thing. But some of the people in our cast are playing 3, 4, 6 characters at a time and they are able to flip on a dime. It really is just so impressive.”
Such mutual admiration and working together so closely over an intense rehearsal period fosters a sense of comradery between the Radio Players. Those bonds are readily apparent in the shows they put on and help their shows connect with their audience on an emotional level.
“It’s fun to watch a group come together where you’ve got people of all different religions and types and nobody cares,” Larsen said. “They fully respect each other.”
“With as much division and controversy and contention as there is in the world right now, it’s nice coming and being a part of something where it doesn’t matter what your political view is,” added Goodworth. “We’re all here because we love a beautiful story and we want to support good things in our community. And who is doing the good things is so much less important than that we’re supporting it and encouraging all the goodness in our area.”
You can catch the Snake River Radio Players’ performance of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Trinity United Methodist Church in Idaho Falls on Thursday, December 9, Friday, December 10 and Saturday, December 11 at 7:00 pm. There is also a matinee at 2:00 pm on Saturday.
Admission is free but donations are welcome. All donations go toward Trinity UMC’s Day Shelter to assist the homeless population of Idaho Falls. Visit the Snake River Radio Players’ Facebook page for more information.