An oil lamp

It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play

by Joe Landry

November 19th - December 20th


Oil Lamp Theater invites you to kick off the holiday season with their presentation of Joe Landry’s It’s a Wonderful Life — A Live Radio Play. This heartwarming classic is a show within a show. It’s December 24, 1946 in Studio A at WBFR Radio, and a cast of six actors is preparing to present It’s a Wonderful Life live to the listening audience. With the help of only a sound-effects artist, the ensemble re-enacts the story of George Bailey, a young man whose dreams of traveling the world are thwarted by his sense of responsibility to the family business. Down on his luck, Bailey, compassionate yet disheartened, is at the end of his rope. He questions his purpose in life and considers ending it all. Just then, an angel arrives to show Bailey how the lives of those he loves would be affected if he were not around. The story’s message is profound and remains relevant for today’s audiences. Shows run 2 hours with a 10 minute intermission.


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Detailed Description

Are you looking for an escape from this pressure filled – 24 hours a day news cycle – caffeine addicted – tweeted – blogged – tumbled – texting world?  Come visit Oil Lamp Theater this holiday season and enjoy some much deserved time off the grid.  Simply cross over our threshold and let the holiday whimsy take you back to a simpler more gentle time.  Start your detoxification with some fresh-baked holiday cookies and hot chocolate while letting your childlike wonderment take in the breathtaking holiday decorations.  And finally, Oil Lamp Theater itself will be transformed into the 1940s radio studio of New York station WBFR for a warmhearted adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life. You will be whisked back to a gentler time as you meet the many charming characters who populate Bedford Falls, New York — a special place where our faith in the power of love and friendship is restored.

Martin Hughes (Chicago) and Amanda Meyer (Chicago) play George and Mary Bailey, while Joe Page (Evanston) is the enthusiastic host and announcer for WBFR. Page also provides the voice of the villainous old miser Mr. Potter and other residents of Bedford Falls. Marshall Kious (Chicago) and Marisa Lerman (Glenview) also bring to life several roles in the radio drama. Kious is the saving angel Clarence, Harry Bailey, Sam Wainwright and more. Lerman lends her versatile voice and acting skills to every other female in the play, ranging from a small child to the town siren to George Bailey’s mom. Stephen Smith (Evanston) returns as a variety of characters, including the druggist Mr. Gower, Uncle Billy, Ernie the cop and more. The production is directed by Artistic Director, Keith Gerth (Northbrook)

Rounding out the cast is Foley artist and real-life stage manager Traci Cidlik (Wheeling) who plays the sound engineer at WBFR. She is entrusted with all the behind-the-scenes audio magic for this radio play. Cidlik adds a critical dimension to the show, using clever and surprising techniques to simulate ringing telephones, chirping crickets, slamming doors, breaking glass and much more.

This radio play closely follows the plot of the Frank Capra film. However, audience members will experience the story through the unique lens of this “golden age of radio” production, complete with flashing “applause” signs and clever jingles during commercial breaks. The audience will even have a chance to send out radiogram messages to loved ones listening at home courtesy of the WBFR airwaves!

Performances of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play run from November 19th through December 20th, Thursdays through Sundays. For evening performances, doors open at 7:30 pm and shows begin at 8:00 pm. For Saturday and Sunday matinees, doors open at 2:30 pm and the show begins at 3:00 pm. Oil Lamp Theater is a BYOB establishment – but hot chocolate and home-made cookies are also available for everyone! Tickets are $35 and are available through or at the Oil Lamp box office on Tuesdays through Fridays from noon to 5 pm. Group rates are also available.  

Shake off the “glums” and rekindle your holiday spirit with this delightful, family-friendly celebration in the welcoming hospitality of Glenview’s Oil Lamp Theater. The theater space will be specially “dressed” for a 1940s Christmas, and there will always be many surprises. Make It’s a Wonderful Life a holiday tradition… don’t miss it!


Be a part of the experience….
This year we are asking our guests to become part of the experience of the holidays this season at Oil Lamp. Part of our mission is to support our community so, in association with the Northfield Township Food Pantry, we are proud to offer a helping hand to those individuals. Members of the community are invited to bring nonperishable food items such as canned goods, cereal, macaroni and cheese, jelly, pasta and sauce with them to the theater. All food items that are contributed will then be given to the Northfield Township Food Pantry for distribution.

Thanks to the generous donations of food, financial assistance and volunteer hours, the Northfield Township Food Pantry has been helping a growing number of local low-income families. Their client base continues to increase in these times of economic hardship; however, with continued assistance, they can support more than 1,600 Township residents.

All donated items will be placed around our lobby tree. Let’s fill the space with the joy of the season!!

It’s Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play Cast and Crew

Director – Keith Gerth

Jake Laurents

portrayed by

Martin J. Hughes

Harry "Jazzbo" Heywood

portrayed by

Marshall Kious

Lana Sherwood

portrayed by

Marisa Lerman

Sally Appelwhite

portrayed by

Amanda Meyer

Freddie Fillmore

portrayed by

Joe Page

Bud Collyer

portrayed by

Stephen Smith