It's a Wonderful Life with Michael Gene Sullivan at MTC on Wanda's Picks Dec. 19, 2012
I don’t think I have ever seen the parking lot as full as it was the Saturday evening I attended. It felt like a real show with the host chatting with the audience before air time, applause signs lighting up when it was time for us to clap, and a variety of voices and sounds produced right in front of us. I could imagine how the footsteps sounded to those at home who couldn’t see one of the radio cast walking two empty shoes by hand over corn flakes (smile).
But perhaps the reason why the holiday tale felt so new has a lot to do with the story’s form which points to the immediacy of the genre, theatre—a radio play at that. Before the show starts, Michael Gene Sullivan’s "Freddie Fillmore" is talking to the audience, prepping it on a song, answering questions and kidding around. Then the house lights dim and the lights blink on the set “Applause,” signaling time to settle down for the show. Unlike those listening at home, we have the privilege of watching the actors on the set which is entertaining within itself—tight, they have to quietly maneuver between and around each other as they shift hats from actor to sound designers or engineers—chorus, conductors and cheer leaders.
It’s a Wonderful Life tells us to count our blessings every day, especially on those days when we’re overdrawn on life and we’ve lost the keys to the safety deposit box where memories are kept. Michael Gene Sullivan is perfect as "Freddie," the host of the show. A natural, Sullivan’s work with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, a 25+ year old history of political theatre in the park, is at home with Radio Play, a show that shares much of the same Mime Troupe theatrics.
It is not a musical, yet there is music on the show—Michael’s timing is superb, whether that is as Uncle Billy stumbling out of the office drunk and knocking something over or as the villain, Trotter, rubbing his hands together when he thinks he has finally gotten the best of George.
Michael Gene Sullivan closes the Wanda's Picks radio show this morning. Visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2012/12/19/wandas-picks-radio-show-special-a-new-beginning