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No holiday season is complete without a visit back to Bedford Falls with George and Mary Bailey, Bert and Ernie, Mr. Potter, and an angel named Clarence. Frank Capra’s classic film, It’s A Wonderful Life, is the timeless and endearing story that tells the importance of one life to lives of others.

A holiday tradition not to be missed, and 15 years in the making is, It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! The American Blues Theater's production is a show for the entire family, set on stage in the style of a 1940’s radio broadcast with an original score, Foley sound effects and holiday songs. There’s something to comfort everyone here … right down to the milk and cookies served by the cast.  

The production is directed by Wendy Whiteside, Producing Artistic Director since 2010, who has played the role of Mary six times over the years. In that time, the Joseph Jefferson Award recipient and nominee has led a remarkable period of artistic growth and professional recognition for the 37-member Ensemble whose mission is to explore the American identity through the plays it produces and the communities it serves.

Wendy Whiteside, and Foley artist and designer, Shawn J. Goudie, joined the conversation on December 8th to tell us more about their wonderful lives in Chicago … and Bedford Falls.

Wendy on directing a live radio play …

“Most important thing when you tell a story live on stage is to be present in the moment … We direct our actors to be in the moment with this audience as well as the listening audience at home. Sometimes the actors will break the fourth wall and look into the audience … and sometimes they will direct the entire piece into the mic and close their eyes and imagine they have an audience member at home in their pajamas on the couch with hot cocoa.”

 What It’s A Wonderful Life means to her …

 “… Every season I am reminded of how important every single soul is to the present time we are living in.”

 Shawn Goudie "The Foley Guy" ... 

“It is such a wonderful art form and a lot of it, in fact, does still occur in films and radio as well … but you just do not think about it as much … It is easier for a one-person show to run things on an app but if you have the ability and the tools to do it … there is nothing like the crispness of that live sound.”

Live sound effects demonstration …

SG: Clarence leaping off the bridge to save George, and George subsequently jumping off to save him.


ET: I feel like I’m right at home in my bath tub.


2017 SEASON - The American Blues Theater presents It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! from November 16, 2017 to January 6, 2018  at the Stage 773. WEBSITE BOX OFFICE: (773) 327-5252


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