SEASONAL SATIRE: Online play blends ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and zombies
It’s that time of year again.
Singing carols. Watching holiday movies and buying presents. Avoiding zombies.
Inclusive Theater of Western New York – with five local actors, including four Batavia Players alumni participating – will be putting on “It’s a Wonderful Life … with Zombies!” 8 p.m. Saturday. Written by Andrea Woodbridge and Chris Barker, the play takes Frank Capra’s beloved film “It’s a Wonderful Life” and sets it in a post-apocalyptic America. Barker, who is also the director, said he worked with Aimee M. Levesque, PhD, who founded the Inclusive Theater, for awhile and she was looking for a holiday production.
“We know that ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was close to being in the public domain. Then when I looked at the script, I thought, ‘You know, maybe we could do something new and unique with it,’” he said.
Barker talked with Woodbridge, who agreed it would be fun to put a twist on it. The two writers decided to turn it into a modern day satire.
Barker and Woodbridge put together a script and after going through a number of drafts, got something they liked. After casting was done, rehearsals started last week.
“It’s an interesting story that people will be interested in seeing and watching,” Barker said.
He said the radio show will be tying the pandemic to the outbreak of zombies and the angels were changed to people from the government trying to find people to help by watching social media. While some staples will remain the same, such as Henry Potter being the villain of the show, the angel Clarence has been turned into a woman by the name of Paige who works with the government.
The cast includes four veterans of Batavia Players productions and a longtime member of Wyoming County Bicentennial Singers.
James Barcomb, who has performed in a number of Batavia Players shows in the past seven years, stars as George Bailey. This is Barcomb’s third appearance with Inclusive Theater. His Batavia Players credits include “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Mamma Mia,” “King Lear,” “Blithe Spirit” and “Hamlet,” among others.
Other Batavia Players alumni include Anthony Baldwin-Giambrone, Dorothy Gerhart and Jessica Pierce.
Baldwin-Giambrone plays multiple roles, including Bartender Tom and George Bailey’s friend. He is a special education teacher who has directed and choreographed shows with Batavia Players.
Gerhart, who plays Paige Turner, is a community theater veteran of more than 20 years. She began performing in Nevada and since 2009 has been involved with Batavia Players shows.
Pierce appears in “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a British news anchor, Harry Bailey at 8 years old, and as Billie Knight, a business partner of the evil Henry Potter. Pierce’s Batavia Players credits include “Frankenstein,” “Little Women,” “Our Town” and four Broadway revues. Pierce, an education major at Genesee Community College, has also performed with the college’s Forum Players in such shows as “Peter Pan,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “The Rocky Horror Show.”
Also in the cast is Mary Ann Reisdorf of Varysburg. Reisdorf, who plays Mary Bailey, has acted across the region and sang the lead in “Daniel, The Musical” at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The biblical story of Daniel and the lion’s den was developed in Batavia. She has been a longtime member of Wyoming County Bicentennial Singers and its side project, Folk O’ The Road, a singing group.
“It’s a Wonderful Life … with Zombies!” will be streamed live online for free at www.weareiconicrocket.com. People also have a chance to win $150, and more information can be found at the website.
The play will premiere over Zoom, but Barker said the goal is to perform it off Broadway. Whether they decide to rerun it for Christmas Eve will depend on the reception they get.
Note: You can also view the show on Inclusive Theater of WNY’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/inclusivetheaterofwny