As PlayMakers puts the finishing touches on it’s on-stage reinvention of the holiday film classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, we go behind-the-scenes to see what inspired our creative team, beyond Capra’s classic movie, of course.

For starters, the script is set in a 1940s radio studio on Christmas Eve, as five radio actors transport a live audience both to Bedford Falls and into this timeless story of family and redemption. Those five wartime actors have personalities and stories themselves, distinct and sometimes quite different from the familiar characters from the original movie: George, Mary, Clarence, Violet and more. PlayMakers costume designer Rachel Pollock went back to the ’40s to come up with the clothes that make these players-within-the-play. Here, in the first of three segments to be posted this week, we look at the sources that inspired Rachel in coming up with the distinct, on-stage look for each character, as well as read her notes on these idea-generators.

Freddie Filmore (played by PlayMakers veteran Ray Dooley) is the boisterous radio announcer who takes on the role of the villainous Mr. Potter. No surprise that Rachel sought out the look of A-listers Cary Grant and Clark Gable–fittingly grouped with the height of 1940s tailoring–for this commanding personality.

Funnyman Harry “Jazzbo” Heywood (Brandon Garegnani) plays the beloved if somewhat bumbling guardian angel Clarence. He does so in a wardrobe inspired by jazz standout Dizzy Gillespie, with a sharp tie, loud jacket and perhaps larger-than-necessary pants.

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY adapted by Joe Landry
November 28 – December 16, 2012
Directed by Nelson T. Eusebio III