As director of Music Box's next show, T. Doyle Leverett could have given himself the part of heart-warming hero George Bailey, or maybe Clarence, the clumsy, second-class angel.
Instead, he opted for the only real villain in It's A Wonderful Life, the cold and cruel Mr. Potter.
My Lord, that's a feast of a role, Leverett said. Completely unredeemed. He's probably one of the blackest villains ever put on film.
Of course, the Music Box Playhouse is not presenting the film version.
This time around, it's not the stage version either. It's a live radio play. That means, for starters, the audience has the fun of watching the sound-effects person work his magic.
He is down stage right in a featured position, the director said.
We have cornflakes that stand in for snow. We have a snapped belt that makes a slapping sound when Mr. Gower the druggist slaps George. We have a tub of water for when Clarence jumps into the river, and we have several pairs of shoes that stomp off in different directions.
A cast of nine portrays about two dozen roles, among them desperate and suicidal George Bailey; his loving wife, Mary; his forgetful Uncle Billy; a stern bank examiner; and Clarence, the angel who shows George how valuable he has been to other people.
If not for George, his younger brother, Harry, would have drowned in a frozen pond, his first boss, the druggist, would have gone to jail for accidentally poisoning a customer, his family's savings-and-loan business would have crumbled, and the entire town would have fallen sway to the mercenary Mr. Potter.
You never know what happened to Mr. Potter, Leverett said. He probably was consumed by his own evil and exploded.
The story is a beloved holiday favorite, Leverett said.
It makes the point so clearly that each of us, no matter how unimportant we think we are, we have a circle of family and friends in which not only are we important, we're vital. The lack of any one person is like waves in a pond. It's going to emanate out. Clarence says to George, ‘You've been given a very great gift to be able to see this.'
Because this is a radio play, audience members will have a role in the production.
At the beginning an announcer will make a speech telling them how important their reactions are because it will enhance the enjoyment of the ‘listeners at home,' Leverett said. They'll be encouraged to be free with their reactions.
What: ‘It's a Wonderful Life'
When: Saturday through Dec. 16, with shows at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays
Where: Music Box Dinner Playhouse, 196 Hughes St., Swoyersville
Dinner: Served 90 minutes before showtime
More info: 283-2195