UDM ‘radio’ play hits downtown theatre

The Theatre Company’s second production of the year, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” opened last week at the YMCA in downtown Detroit.

After last year’s success, the company decided to bring this show back for the holiday season.

Based on the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the play delves into the life of George Bailey, a man with a strong will and often desperate needs.

Held at another new location, the Boll Family YMCA Theatre, the play is charming and different.

Seven actors play more than 40 characters in the story.

Four of the actors featured are members of the UDM family, including new faculty member Andrew Papa, new theatre major Bridget Smith, theatre minor Ashe Lewis and alum Jonathan Krause. 

The other three actors – Jacquie Floyd, William Bryson and Andrew Laux – are all professionals not connected to UDM. 

Because it setting is a live radio play, the actors stand in front of stationary radio microphones, which is obviously unlike most plays.

“Radio plays take us back to the absolute roots of theatre – that of story-telling,” said director Blair Anderson in a UDM press release. “This adaptation … captures all of the emotion and charm of Frank Capra’s iconic film through the imaginative talents of our cast.”

During the intermission, Jacquie Floyd addressed a few members of the audience.

“When we’re talking, try to close your eyes and picture the movie,” she said.

The actors encouraged the audience to participate in the play. 

“Laugh out loud, applaud, have a good time,” said Papa before the show began. “The radio audience is counting on your reactions as part of their experience.”

In the corners of the stage were “Applause” signs that lit up when the audience was expected to applaud.

With the new location comes new restaurant partners, including Small Plates Detroit and Detroit Beer Company, both conveniently located near the YMCA.

By showing a ticket or program from the show, audience members receive up to 50 percent off food and drink items from the partner restaurants.

The show runs for one more weekend, Thursday, Dec. 10, through Sunday, Dec. 13.

The Thursday evening performance will be a “theatre industry night.”

Just mention “theatre industry” when buying tickets and receive $15 off the regular adult price.

Tickets may be purchased online by visiting www.UDMarts.com. They may also be ordered over the phone and picked up at the theatre by calling 313-993-3270. Ticket office hours are Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. 

The ticket office will open 45 minute prior to curtain.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, UDM faculty, staff, alumni, donors and Detroit residents. Student admission is $10 with valid high school, college or university ID.

This will be the last production for the theatre company until “Low Hanging Fruit” arrives in March.