It's A Wonderful Life at Improv Playhouse Theater

Updated 12/2/2022 10:49 AM

George Bailey spends his entire life giving up his big dreams for the good of his town. His guardian angel, Clarence, falls to Earth, literally, and shows him how his community, family, and friends would turn out if he had never been born. And Improv Playhouse® Theater has big dreams for this 75th film-anniversary release date year of "It's a Wonderful Life". Many regard the story as perhaps the best Christmas movie ever made adapted to the stage by many regional theaters. If the traditionally staged Audio Drama wasn't enough, IP Founder, David Brian Stuart has "hatched" (as in Mary Hatch!) an expanded event this year with a memorabilia filled Improv Playhouse Annex, adding a Santa visit and Improv Playhouse Traveling Troupe singers to several performances. "We have had such success re-building our community coming out of the pandemic we felt that a larger celebration would add to the Wonderful Life experience we create every year. The Improv Playhouse® Traveling Troupe is an audition only outreach show choir and will be singing a holiday medley as patrons enter the theater!" Improv Playhouse® has partnered with Illinois based collector Richard Goodsen to create a museum quality exhibition of IAWL art and memorabilia as well as a festive Beford Falls Santa-visit Wonderland. The Annex next to the Theater will be open to patrons of the shows. A "tip" for St. Nick will be requested for an individual or family photo with Santa snapping shots with their own camera devices. Mia Hirschel, who plays Mary Hatch exudes, "IP patrons and new guests always love to come and see how live radio was performed way back when! They call it "ole-timey' radio theater or theater of the mind, where they often shut their eyes and just listen to our voice acting. We are truly touched when the audience actually identifies with our portrayal of the characters as we stage the story." The Libertyville-based theater company is performing a two-weekend run December 9th through the 18th. "This is a story of redemption, where the lead character finds he's at the end of all hope, only to be presented with a new vision on how his life has affected so many," says Stuart who directing and starring in the role of George Bailey. The cast features successful actors including SAG-AFTRA actors Stuart, Hirschel and Hainesville resident, Village Board member, George Elliott (Superintendent Angel). Veteran character actor Egon Schein from Libertyville (Clarence/Potter), Ted Rafferty (Schaumburg), Dan Ness (Palatine), Sue Kries (Barrington), Steve Plumhoff (Gurnee) and Jerry Hirschel (Lake Zurich)round out the adult cast. Youth ensemble members will be announced. Adult actors play some of the child roles. "We hold in-house auditions of our young students to play the female child roles including the role of ZuZu." To take this story and set it in a 1940s radio studio complete with commercials and a sound effects engineer is a great concept, and it is clear why this show has become a staple of the holiday season in Libertyville. "This is a production that will delight all members of every family, from young to old; it emphasizes the joy of the holidays, the spirit of kindness, love and forgiveness so needed in our culture, in a little over an hour…plus…Nick's Bar will be serving only milk, hot chocolate and cookies!" says Stuart. 6 performances only, Fridays 12/9 & 16th and Saturdays, 12/10 & 17 at 7:30pm and Sundays 12/11 & 18 at 2:30pm The production is approximately 1 hour 15 minutes long. Improv Playhouse® Theater is at 735 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. Pre-sale tickets are $15.00 for adults and $7.50 students. Tickets at the door are $20.00 and $10.00. . Recommended age: 7 & up. To order tickets, call (847) 968.4529 or purchase online at

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