The holiday classic like you’ve never seen it before. Take a trip back to simpler times as the cast and crew of Los Angeles radio station KAWL present a radio play version of the heart-warming tale It’s a Wonderful Life. Drama unfolds as KAWL’s big personalities struggle to survive the evolving entertainment landscape. But it’s the holidays, a time when miracles can happen…
The play takes place around the holiday season in 1947 at a radio station in Los Angeles. The station, KAWL, used to be the city’s main source for entertainment, but has fallen on some rough times. KAWL has a bare-bones staff that runs the operation, and rumors are flying about the station’s inevitable closing, despite the efforts of its owner Michael Anderson. Everyone is aware the only reason he is fighting to keep it alive is for his parents and the blood, sweat, and tears they put in running the station back in its heyday. KAWL used to do these types of live broadcasts regularly, and they were “must-listen” radio.
However, it’s been some time since the station has done one. Michael has decided to call on some old friends with big personalities to offer a new radio play based on a little known (at the time) but inspiring movie, Frank Capra’s touching masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life, in what might be the station’s final live show. But it’s the holidays, a time when miracles can happen…
This production not only presents a truly unique version of the heart-warming story, shared through a live radio play— it also takes the audience behind the scenes to watch the drama unfold between the station owners, crew, and the actors performing as they quickly realize what’s happening to their beloved station and fight to save it, making this truly a holiday tale within a holiday tale.
Full of heartwarming, funny, and sweet moments, it is a wonderful holiday play to watch with anyone and one that should not be missed.
–Life in LA
Michael Anderson – The station’s owner; a former actor who got sucked into running the radio station after his parents passed away in an accident a few years ago. He’s a younger guy with a good heart who always looks to do well by others. Though the radio station is failing, something is keeping him fighting for it. He is an immensely stressed out individual, but also a rock with a heart of gold for his friends and family. He hasn’t acted in years, but on this night, he’ll have to.
Roles: George Bailey
Melanie Peters – Michael’s girlfriend. She’s the station’s manager, very devoted to Michael and is waiting patiently for him to put a ring on her finger. She is very sweet and polite and gentle… until she’s not. She can be a bit of a ballbuster when it comes to the work. Even Michael fears her at times. But she is also very protective of her friends and family.
Roles: Mary Hatch
Judy Anderson – Michael’s first cousin. She’s a bumbling mess. She means well but is constantly screwing up. She is the station’s “do everything” gal as Michael can’t keep on a big staff. She’ll round up actors, work with the tech, read parts if need be, and even do the sound effects… which are often plagued with problems. She is a major source of stress for Michael, but he loves her just the same.
Roles: Sound effects
The KAWL Radio Girls: Holly, Harriet, Honey – Performing the carols, the jingles, and the scoring throughout. Harriet is the ringleader, Holly is a little naïve, and Honey likes to have a good time.
Jennifer DaVinci (used to be Jenny Josie Jones) – She’s been a radio and film regular for a few years. Not a huge star, but her looks have given her a following. She’s not the brightest bulb. She is very sweet and innocent. She is aware of her reputation, however, and has recently changed her screen name… again. Michael has used her in commercials for the station.
Roles: Janie, Tilly, Edna, Mrs. Davis, Ruth, Teller, Mrs. Hatch
Clifton Logan – The womanizer. He is very suave with a rich voice. He has done a lot of film and radio as well, but his career has taken a recent slide, mainly because of his ability to find himself in scandals (mainly home-wrecking). He has also worked with Michael and his family for years. Michael has often bailed him out of trouble.
Roles: Potter, Nick, Adult Harry
Claudia LaBelle – The aging starlet. She is adored all over the country and having her on the show is a big deal… though not as big as it would have been a few years ago. She is actually very humble at heart, but plays the role of diva well. She is doing the show because Michael’s parents gave her a shot before she was on the rise. KAWL is where she got her start and she remembers.
Roles: Violet, Zuzu, Woman in Boardroom, Charlotte, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Bailey
Mitchell Thompson – The rookie. A Southern boy, he’s not aware of the talent he has yet and is just eager to work anywhere and everywhere. He’s got big dreams that he wants to share with anyone who’ll listen. He’s only done a few things and is a little intimidated, but it’s clear he’s got a bright future. Working at KAWL has always been a dream for him.
Roles: Martini, Ernie, Young Harry, Dr. Campbell, Sam, Randall, Pete, Tollkeeper, Officer
Victor Saul – A party boy at heart (and a good friend of Clifton). He’s been banished from a lot of sets, but Clifton got him on here with a promise he’d behave. He is drunk throughout this performance, but sobering up as it goes along.
Roles: Gower, Bert, Old Man Collins, Lawyer, Tom, Welch, Carter
Steven Pennington – The station’s lead announcer. A gentle soul, he has been with the station for a while. Steven is a recognizable voice from the station’s heyday. He is essentially Michael’s wise and caring uncle.
Roles: Announcer, Joseph, Uncle Billy, Pop
Man off the Street – He wanders in at the last minute before they go on the air. He looks like he might be homeless. He doesn’t speak until he starts reading from the script.
Setting: The play takes place in 1947 and is set in the recording studio of the fictitious Los Angeles radio station KAWL.
Performance Royalties for AMATEUR and EDUCATIONAL Groups begin at $90.00 performance for theaters under 150 seats, and rise depending on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote.
Performance Royalties for PROFESSIONAL Theaters will be quoted as a box office percentage, with a minimum guarantee based on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote.
An Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement (see Materials).
Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.
“It's a Wonderful Life is a pleasant way to blend the soul of the holiday season with theater.” –Accessibility Live
“The show is a ‘piffle,’ so fresh and light it can almost float away, yet so deep and profound a moral message.” –Tolucan Times
“Director Erin Scott does an excellent job creating the authentic craziness of a live radio performance, presenting energetic goings-on behind the scenes. She keeps the humor and the action flowing as the story unspools in real time.” –The Tolucan Times
“Martyka himself acts as the glue holding the show together, giving an expressive performance as the harried station manager while also providing emotional depth to George Bailey.” –The Tolucan Times
“It’s a Wonderful Life provides laughs and fun entertainment as it demonstrates that the richness of man comes from his generosity, kindness, and love of family and friends.” –The Tolucan Times
“Director Erin Scott conducts a fun, multi-layered presentation with enough focus on the movie’s plot while enhancing the story-around-the-story.” –Art4Families
“Theatre Unleashed gets a gold star for its rendition.” –GiaOnTheMove.com
“It’s delightfully intricate and silly and a good time all around. You will leave with smile.”–GiaOnTheMove.com
“Jim Martyka adapted Frank Capra’s wonderful movie It’s a Wonderful Life into a wonderful play. Theatre Unleashed takes Martyka’s adapted work and translates the script into something beautiful. The characters have great and quirky personalities and the production unites a random bunch of individuals into a cohesive and loving group of actors and actresses.” –LifeInLA
“There is never a dull moment, which further charms the audience and draws everyone’s attention toward the littlest details the actors present.” –LifeInLA
“Full of heartwarming, funny, and sweet moments, it is a wonderful holiday play to watch with anyone and one that should not be missed.” –LifeInLA
“TU’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play is an unexpected gem that will undoubtedly leave you a bit teary, overwhelmed by its powerful message of hope, humanity, and goodness.” –Fanbase Press
“At a time when human decency, empathy, acceptance, and goodwill are needed more than ever in our society, TU’s It’s a Wonderful Life is a quintessential reminder of what truly matters in life, and that even in our worst moments, we can persevere and be better for it. It is a remarkable thing to witness an audience so moved by a performance that they lean ever so slightly forward in their chairs, captivated fully and deeply.” –Fanbase Press
“Apart from the very clever writing, everything about this production struck the right notes. The comedy veers between madcap to achingly human. The stories echo back and forth on many levels, heightening the power of both the radio play and the radio players. In fact, this may well be my favorite version of IAWL ever!” –Night-Tinted Glasses
“The story itself is of course so well-known and so iconic that it’s somehow quite surprising how fresh and relevant it feels as the fantastic actors at Theatre Unleashed perform the play. The themes are, as they ever are with excellent writing, timely, real and totally relatable. But it’s the second story, the story of the radio station and everyone working together to make something special happen that really takes center stage, so to speak.” –NoHoArtsDistrict.com
“The actors are all utterly compelling and endearing… every cast member was perfection, all heart-achingly committed and perfectly in-sync with each other. I have to say I was smiling so much my face ached.” –NoHoArtsDistrict.com
“Martyka also gives us plentiful interaction among these off-air folks— even while the show’s on the air— and a frame story that nicely echoes the film’s plot. His version is a good idea brought to fullness. And the Unleashed troupe performs it with professionalism and gusto.” –Theatre Ghost
“What’s more, the whole company has fun telling the story— one of this show’s most engaging features. For a holiday entertainment full of laughter and sentiment, It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play is at the top of the tree.” –Theatre Ghost
“Recommended” –Stage Raw
“This production is perfect, good old fashioned holiday entertainment for the entire family.”
“It is a pleasant trip to the past (great costumes) and a definite audience pleaser full of hope and good cheer.” –NoHoArtsDistrict.com
“It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play is holiday season live theatre at its most delightful and heartwarming.” –StageSceneLA
“This adaptation by Jim Martyka offers the enchantment of that story plus a sweet nostalgic trip back to long-ago days when all that was needed for family entertainment were sound effects, voices and a decent radio.” –Stage Raw
“If you haven't seen it yet, you're missing a delightful holiday treat build around a stunningly simple but wonderful idea.” –Night-Tinted Glasses
“Makes for a nice gift, for Christmas or Hanukah or your holiday of choice.” –Night-Tinted Glasses
“There’s more than one Christmas miracle in store for the cast and characters of Theatre Unleashed’s It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play, Jim Martyka’s double-your-pleasure adaptation of the holiday perennial.” –StageSceneLA
“It’s A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play is once again a Theatre Unleashed holiday delight.”
An Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement. Your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date, unless other arrangements have been made in advance with your Stage Rights Licensing Representative.
The Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package for IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A KAWL RADIO PLAY consists of:
21 Production Scripts / $240.00 (shipping included)
Production Scripts for Plays are professionally printed and bound with a full-color cover.
You will have the option to purchase additional Production Scripts at a discounted rate when you complete your Licensing Agreement.
Official Logo Pack Now Included! To help you promote your show, Stage Rights now includes a logo pack with your license. The logo pack includes high resolution versions (both color and black and white) of our show logo. The logo is the portion of the artwork with the title of the show. The surrounding artwork is also available for an additional fee.
Stage Manager’s Script – Printed on standard 8.5” x 11” 3-hole-punched paper, with the same page numbers and text as the Printed Production Scripts, but with more space on the page for notes and cues.