South London’s newest fringe theatre, Bridge House Theatre SE20, will be officially launched next month with the UK premiere of the Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life, performed as a live radio play in front of a “studio” audience.
Directed by the venue’s artistic director, Guy Retallack, It’s A Wonderful Life will run from December 9 – January 4.
It’s A Wonderful Life, by Tony Palermo, is a loving tribute to the golden era of radio but also beautifully captures the eternal comedy of Frank Capra’s iconic Hollywood feature film.
It’s the story of a dreamer, the idealistic George Bailey from a small American town, Bedford Falls, just after the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Standing alone on a bridge on Christmas Eve, George has decided with all his dreams of escape and adventure quashed by his love of family and civic duty, that everyone would be better off without him… or would they?
It falls to a guardian angel, Clarence, to try and save him, showing him what the world could have been like without him and how, after all, it has been a wonderful life.
Not only does the triumph of humanity come effortlessly across through this amazing story, but the unique setting of the recording of a radio play in the 1940s, adds another layer of drama to this immortal classic.
Cast and creatives to be announced.
Bridge House Theatre SE20, at Bridge House, High Street, Penge, has joint artistic directors in Retallack and his actress wife, Rachel Tucker, who is currently starring on Broadway in the world premiere of Sting’s The Last Ship.
The theatre’s manager and lead producer is Rob Harris.
Local residents, Retallack and Tucker had been looking for a venue to create a theatre for Penge, Crystal Palace and the surrounding area for some time.
A chance meeting with Bridge House pub owner Scott Blenkhorn and manager Simon Kelly soon led to a commitment to create a theatre above the popular local hostelry.
Cabaret nights, curated and programmed by Rachel, and comedy evenings, programmed by Laura Checkley, have already been hugely enthusiastically received by locals.
It’s A Wonderful Life will run in rep from December 12-21 with a specially written panto – The Uglies Take Penge, a new take on the traditional panto dame.