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Center transforms for live radio broadcast of 'It's a Wonderful Life'
Amelia Fischer

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18-20 and 25-28 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 21 and 29.
Where: Brenau Downtown Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville
Cost: $15 for adults and seniors and $10 for students and children
More info:

The holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without seeing the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” at least once.

And this year, the Gainesville Theatre Alliance is putting a new spin on the show.

Beginning Dec. 18, the GTA will perform the well-known story in the form of a live radio show, meaning the stage will be transformed into a radio studio instead of Bedford Falls.

“It’s a story within a story,” GTA Marketing Manager Beth Kendall said.

The six-person cast will take on all the roles of the production just as it was done in the 1940s. Actors are James Odom, Amelia Fischer, Matt Magill, Connor Hammond, Alex Dann and Elizabeth Price, and each will take his or her place by the radio microphones.

“A part of what makes it so entertaining to watch is the actors also create all of the live sound effects, from breaking through the ice to police sirens and crowd noise,” said Jim Hammond, GTA artistic and managing director, who is celebrating his 25th year directing in the group.

The story spotlights an average man who feels his existence has no effect on the people around him. He soon finds out he is wrong, but in a way one might not expect.

“It’s one of our most endearing holiday stories and has been for pretty much all of our lives,” Hammond said.

When GTA formed 35 years ago, Hammond was actually a student actor in the group. At that time, the Georgia Mountain Center was being built. It is now the Brenau Downtown Center.

“I was in the very first production that was presented in that facility, which was a production of ‘Hello, Dolly!’ in 1980,” he said.

The group has moved venues several times but has not returned to its original stage since 2001. As a tribute to the supporters and actors over the years, the GTA will perform in the Brenau Downtown Center at 301 Main St. for the first time in 13 years.

In addition to GTA’s 35th anniversary, WDUN is celebrating it 65th year. To celebrate that, WDUN will broadcast the entire opening night production live on the radio as a gift to the community.

“We wanted to do something that is a blessing to this community and this is a fun way to do it,” Kendall said.

The show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18-20 and 25-28. The production will begin at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 21 and 29.

Tickets are $15 for adults and seniors, and $10 for students and children. To buy tickets and choose seats, visit or call the box office at 678-717-3624 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“This is a Christmas present to our community for 35 years of tremendous support,” Hammond said. “It’s going to be, I think, the perfect way to put our audiences in the holiday spirit.”

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