The popular radio play It’s a Wonderful Life will be returning to the stage of the Hay River Heritage Centre in November after a one-year absence.

However, it might be the final presentations of the play in Hay River.

Director Judy West-Pratt said it will be her third and last time organizing the production as she prepares to leave town in 2021.

Judy West-Pratt will be directing four presentations of the radio play ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ at the Hay River Heritage Centre in November.
NNSL file photo

However, she is holding out some hope that others can carry on with the play, which was also presented in 2016 and 2017.

“I’m hoping that I can put a group together this year that will take it on,” she said. “I’ve got lots of people that come out and help because it’s me, but I’m not getting anybody who is willing to take it on on their own. And most of the people that have been helping me only want to do it every second year because it’s so time consuming.”

West-Pratt noted that the last time the play was presented in 2017 it required about 1,000 volunteer hours from actors, the crew and people at the museum

“It takes an incredible amount of time,” she said. “And so they didn’t want to have to give that kind of time up back to back. So they agreed that they would do it with me this year.”

West-Pratt noted that, like with many other activities, volunteers are getting older and older.

“And I don’t seem to be able to bring in young people who want to take it over,” she said.

West-Pratt noted she will still be in town next year, and will be available to help anyone who might want to take over organizing the play.

“But I certainly don’t want to be the moving force behind it again,” she said.

There seems to be considerable interest in the play this year, especially from would-be actors.

“This year, they’re coming out of the woodwork and we’re going to have a really big cast, which is great,” said West-Pratt.

The four performances will be on Nov. 20, Nov. 21, Nov. 22 and Nov. 24. Admission will be by donation.

The show is in the form of a traditional radio play in which the actors – dressed in the styles of the 1940s – read their lines.

People interested in participating in the play are being invited to a meet-and-greet at the museum at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7.

“There are 35 characters, and so I can have a huge cast,” said West-Pratt. “I wouldn’t turn anybody away.”
Six weeks of rehearsals will start on Oct. 8, when she will also assign roles.

The production is also looking for people to help out behind the scenes – stage manager, costumer, set builders, set painters, props person, set designer and producer.

This year, the play is being supported with a $1,700 grant from the NWT Arts Council.

West-Pratt noted there will be a few new aspects to the production this year, including live music and a person to teach the cast how to sing Christmas carols really well.

The radio play It’s a Wonderful Life – based on the popular Christmas movie of the same name – was written by American playwright Tony Palermo.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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