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Players show steps back in time
Audiences can be a part of the old-time radio show in new play
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‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’
When: 8 p.m. today-Saturday and Oct. 22-23; 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 24
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St. SW, Gainesville
How much: $16 adults, $12 students, children and seniors age 60 and older
More info: 770-534-8420

On one part of the stage, actors flip in and out of various characters, speaking into cups if they’re on the phone or inflecting their voice this way and that.

On the other side, a bevy of noisy contraptions and an organ create all the bells and whistles of the production — literally.

"It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" by the Georgia Mountain Players, which opens today, gives the audience the interactive experience of being part of an old-time radio broadcast.

A light-up "applause" sign signals when you should clap and a hand-built air machine puts the actors into a chilly winter day.

And then there are the bells.

Because, as fans of the classic 1946 film starring Jimmy Stewart know, every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.

"There’s a drugstore that has a little bell on the door, there’s a different bell for a cash register and a different one for a phone," said Peggy Strickland, who is directing the show.

There also are two different kinds of doors and a wind machine specially made by the show’s artistic director, Mike Martin.

Aside from the sound effects, another challenge facing the cast was developing so many character voices and keeping them straight throughout the show. Aside from the couple who play George and Mary Bailey — Rhonda and Cleve Brown, who are married in real life — the other cast members have multiple roles.

"So, they’re creating the different characters," Strickland said. "I think my folks have done a wonderful job doing that."

The Players also added a special guest star to the cast for this performance — local radio personality Bill Maine.

"He’s one of the multirole folks, and he’s added some tips for us about radio," Strickland said.