SSC holiday show 'It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play' opens Nov. 15

It's A Wonderful LIfe poster

 It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play marks Shakespeare Santa Cruz's 15th holiday co-production with the UCSC Theater Arts Department since the program’s inception in 1997.

This year, patrons become the studio audience as just nine actors perform dozens of beloved Bedford Falls characters, all in the style of a live 1940s radio broadcast.

Complete with amusing jingles and classic sound effects produced right on stage, this production has become an annual favorite in cities across America.

This classic story about the power of community features actors Gary Wright and Ted Barton, and is helmed by Bay Area director Nancy Carlin.

“Akin to the popular radio program A Prarie Home Companion and, of course, radio plays from the early 20th century, It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play should delight audiences with the on-stage foley work and the ability of the actors to switch between so many characters,” said SSC Artistic Director Marco Barricelli.

Performances run November 15  through December 8 at the UCSC Theater Arts Mainstage--including four special weekday matinée performances for school groups.

Ted Barton returns for the show, having played last year’s Porthos in SSC's The Man in the Iron Mask, and Northumberland/Silence in Henry IV, Part 2. He's also performed at the  Mark Taper Forum, TheatreWorks, Berkeley Playhouse, Foothill Theatre Company, Ensemble Theatre Company, MainStreet Theatre Company, Sierra Repertory Theatre, International City Theatre, Actors Theatre of Phoenix, Shakespeare Sedona; California, Colorado, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festivals; national tour of On Golden Pond, and Equity Guest Artist at the University of Alabama.

Gary Wright’s acting credits include 15 seasons as an associate artist with the Foothill Theatre Company, plus appearances at the B Street Theatre, Capital Stage, Music Circus, Sacramento Theatre Company, Arvada Center, Lake Tahoe, Colorado, and Oregon Shakespeare Festivals, and the Maxim Gorky Theatre in Vladivostok, Russia.  He is also a writer, under commission to write a new play for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and currently working on his second screenplay assignment for Nasser Entertainment Group.

Nancy Carlin is a director, actor, writer and UCSC Theater Arts lecturer. She directed last year’s Honk! and previously performed with Shakespeare Santa Cruz as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and April in Company. She also appeared as Asa in last winter’s UCSC multi-departmental Peer Gynt. A former company member of the American Conservatory Theater, Carlin is an associate artist with the California Shakespeare Theater. She has performed and directed extensively in regional theaters, including the American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, TheatreWorks, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Tickets for the holiday show ($18 - $40) are available by phone and in-person at: the UCSC Ticket Office, Theater Arts Center or (831) 459-2159); and the Civic Box Office, 307 Church St or (831) 420-5260, and online at

Rush tickets for $20 are available at the UCSC Ticket Office, 30 minutes prior to the performance. Discounts are available for youth (under age 18), senior citizens, full-time students, the military, and UCSC staff and faculty.

Groups of 10 or more are also eligible for special rates and benefits by calling the UCSC Ticket Office at (831) 459-2159.