Niagara University Theatre students, alumni, and staff collaborated with WBFO NPR to present “It’s a Wonderful Life,” based on the radio play by Philip Grecian and on the film by Frank Capra. The production, which was recorded live in the WNED studio, brought back the “old-school” feel of a live radio play, complete with a studio audience, voice actors, and Foley sound effects.

The play aired four times on WBFO NPR’s stations in Buffalo and Toronto, as well as online, in December. Satirical promotional announcements were performed by Buffalo Toronto Public Media staff members as “commercials” during the breaks in the show to recreate a radio drama.

The project got underway when Tom Berich, program director at WBFO, contacted Steven Braddock, artistic director of NU Theatre, to inquire if the department would be interested in partnering to produce the radio play.

“As this provided an opportunity for the type of performance experience for our students that we don’t have the resources to provide, I jumped at the chance,” Braddock said.

Auditions were held for faculty and staff and, after NU Theatre had closed its performances of “Much Ado About Nothing” on Dec. 10, the group spent four days rehearsing both on campus and in the studio before performing twice in front of live audiences on Dec. 16.

“It was a terrific experience for us all, and we’re grateful to Tom and the phenomenal team at WBFO, who welcomed us into the fascinating world of radio performance,” Braddock said. 

The cast featured:

Hayden Carr, a junior theatre performance major from Grand Island, N.Y., as George Bailey

Miguel Castañeda, a sophomore theatre performance major from the Philippines, as Carter/Joe/Marty

Kyle Dempsey, a senior theatre performance major from West Seneca, N.Y., as Harry Bailey/Bert the Cop/Welch

Devin Klumpp, a junior theatre performance major, as Uncle Billy/Freddie/Chairman

Alex Sylvester, a freshman theatre performance major from Lancaster, N.Y., as Joseph/Sam Wainwright/Sheriff/Nick

Primo Thomas, ’13, as Mr. Potter/Martini/Tom

Jeremy Vicario, a senior theatre performance major from Amherst, N.Y., as Mr. Gower/Ernie Bishop/Mickey

Lauren Farrow, a junior theatre performance major from Rochester, N.Y., as Clarence

Brianna Garcia, a sophomore majoring in theatre performance and psychology from Lockport, N.Y., as Tilly/Mrs. Hatch/Young Harry

Olivia Kane, a senior theatre and performing arts major from Wilson, N.Y., as Mrs. Bailey/Hortense the Teller/Young George

Callie Maddox, a freshman theatre studies major from Sanborn, N.Y., as young Mary/Mrs. Davis/Janie Bailey

Abbey Mylock, a senior theatre performance and communication studies major from Dover Plains, N.Y., as Mary Hatch-Bailey

Anessa Preteroti, a sophomore theatre performance major from Pittsburgh, Pa., as Mrs. Thompson/Potter’s Secretary/Tommy Bailey

Keirsten Thomas, ’13, as Violet/Ruth Dakin-Bailey/Peter Bailey

Cate Youngers, a freshman theatre performance major from Holland, N.Y., as young Violet/Zuzu