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Americana Theatre Company adds ‘Wonderful Life’ to holiday wonders

The Americana Theatre Company will perform "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" at the Plymouth Center for the Arts.KB Designs of NE

It’s not only the holiday season, it’s “a wonderful life,” according to a live radio play version of the holiday film classic.

Americana Theatre Company will perform its radio play adaptation of the classic 1940s film “It’s A Wonderful Life” at the Plymouth Center for the Arts, 11 North St. For its eight-day run, the company offers two daily curtain times on weekend dates, including Sunday, Dec. 5, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“It’s very intimate,” said director Marianne Savell of the play’s staging. “The setting is an old radio station. You’re like a guest audience seated in the studio for a live radio production from the 1940s.”

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Inside that reproduced studio, eight actors take on 40 roles with microphones, sound effects, and an “applause” sign as the story of idealistic mortgage-lender George Bailey unfolds. The production includes a “foley artist,” who provides sound effects. Walking in snow for instance, the director said, is represented “by stepping on cornflakes in a pan.”

Savell said the resulting experience was interesting. “We don’t mimic the original performers,” she said. But “there are certain rhythms that you want to hear. The style of the era the 1940s, the way the actors portrayed their characters.” The result of reproducing a familiar cinematic work in a different medium, she said, has proved “very moving and very funny.”

The cast includes Americana company members Jesse M. Sullivan, David Friday, Joshua Nicholson, and Erin Friday, joined by guest artists Johan Woods and Ciera Miller. Many of the show’s cast members took part in the company’s earlier production of the play four years ago.

After two shows on Dec. 5, the curtain will rise next on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 8 and 9, at 7 p.m.; Dec. 10, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 11, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 12, at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are available at americanatheatre.org. For COVID-19 protocols, see plymouthguild.org/about.

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“It’s a Wonderful Life” is not the only theatrical offering in Plymouth this season. Playing all the principal roles of a well-loved holiday story, award-winning actor and former South Shore resident Neil McGarry performs his one-man staging of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at the Spire Theater. The show is available for one night only, Wednesday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m. For tickets go to spirecenter.org. The Spire’s guidelines require theatergoers to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the show, and to mask within the theater.

A full theatrical production of “A Christmas Carol” takes place at The Company Theatre, located at 30 Accord Park in Norwell, with Thursday through Sunday performances continuing through Dec. 19. Evening curtains rise at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees begin at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at www.companytheatre.com. Theatergoers are required to wear masks inside the theater, as are the company’s staff and volunteers interacting with the public.

A holiday activity targeted to children and families, the South Shore Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread Build will raise money for Habitat’s ongoing efforts to build affordable homes. Executive director Beth Lyons said participants will receive gingerbread house kits donated by The Catered Affair in Rockland. Teams may bring their own holiday decorations to design their houses, and donated prizes will be awarded to participants.

“The first goal is to introduce South Shore Habitat to the local community and reach a new audience,” Lyons said.

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The goal is to raise $4,000 to go toward Habitat’s current project in Hingham on Whiting Street, where the nonprofit will be building two affordable homes.

“Demolition and preparation of the site is currently underway,” Lyons said. “We anticipate groundbreaking in the spring.”

The event takes place on Saturday, Dec. 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hingham Congregational Church, 378 Main St.. Masks are required for all participants, Lyons said.

Local libraries offer opportunities to celebrate the holidays as well. Kingston Public Library will offer two holiday musical performances at the town’s Adams Center, 33 Summer St., this month. Drummer Kareen Sanjaghi will lead his band in a concert of holiday music, ornamented with “syncopation and improvisation,” on Thursday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. It’s a free program, but registration is required. To register and for more information, visit the online calendar at kingstonpubliclibrary.org.

Pembroke resident Matt York will perform a program of “Songs and Stories” the following Thursday, Dec. 16, also at 6 p.m., in the Adams Center. The library describes the show as an hour of “funny stories about the history of some of the great holiday songs from through the years,” plus the songs’ performances. This event is also free, and requires registration through the library’s website. Kingston Public Library requires that all those attending the programs wear a mask.

Robert Knox can be reached at rc.knox2@gmail.com.

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