It’s a Wonderful Life at Sanford’s Temple Theatre Is a Treat for Friends and Family

Sanford's Temple Theatre will stage It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play from Nov. 29th to Dec. 16th
Sanford's Temple Theatre will stage It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play from Nov. 29th to Dec. 16th
Sanford's Temple Theatre will stage <em>It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play</em> from Nov. 29th to Dec. 16th
Sanford’s Temple Theatre will stage It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play from Nov. 29th to Dec. 16th

‘Tis the season for family, wassail, and good cheer. It is also a time for annual holiday traditions, such as drinking eggnog, spending time with family, and watching Ralphie scheme to get Santa to bring him a BB gun in A Christmas Story. For many, it is also a time to watch Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life. And the Temple Theatre of Sanford is putting on a treat with a production of It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play, adapted from the screenplay by Philip Grecian. It’s a play-within-a-play, really, for we get to watch what it would be like for 1940s radio stars to put on the full-length Christmas classic for a radio audience.

Bleachers onstage hold the cast members, who lounge around, waiting for their time on the old-timey microphones that dot the stage. Working “ON AIR” and “APPLAUSE” signs complete the set.

For the uninitiated, It’s a Wonderful Life follows the life story of good-guy George Bailey (Gus Allen), who has spent his life putting other people first. Even though he dreams of a life of travel and adventure, George agrees to take over his father’s small community savings and loan when his father falls ill.

Each time that George is faced with a crisis, he puts the community’s needs over his own. For instance, when there is a run on the bank, he uses the money for his honeymoon to make sure the locals can pay their bills. As we all know, life happens, and George’s dreams of adventure are always deferred. When a personal crisis causes George to consider ending it all on a chilly Christmas Eve, God sends a guardian angel, Clarence (Steve Moore), to show George the impact that he has had on others, and with it, to help him appreciate the beauty of his life.

The Temple Theatre’s offering did not disappoint. Two Foley Artists, James Clark and Stuart Rose, supplied all of the sound effects, like foot-falls, closing doors, and breaking glass, that would have been necessary to put on a show before the age of Hollywood and computer-generated effects. Clark also played piano music; and during the show, jingles for the sponsors were playfully sung as if they were from the 1940s, Carpenter Sisters style. The whole show was a Christmas treat.

From the Department of Picky-Picky: Some of the sound effects, such as water noises created with a bucket and plunger, or footfalls — shoes on a piece of wood, were either too subtle to be of much effect or were not given the time between the lines to be heard and truly appreciated.

As they would have done in the 1940s, people played several different voices. There were some standouts. It was fun to watch Lynda Clark channeling an ingénue, a middle-aged receptionist, and a crying baby, all the while topped by a fabulous 1940s hat. Stephen Chambers also handled the part of an evil wingman and other characters with aplomb. And finally, Gus Allen was pitch perfect as the good-hearted George Bailey. He knocked it out of the park with his earnest chagrin and care for his community.

It’s a Wonderful Life at Temple Theatre is the perfect holiday show for friends and family. It is worth the drive to Sanford to enjoy this lovely venue and festive holiday production.

The Temple Theatre of Sanford presents IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: THE RADIO PLAY at 2 p.m. Dec. 13, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15, and 2 p.m. Dec. 16 at 120 Carthage St., Sanford, North Carolina 27330.

TICKETS: $27 ($15 students and $22 Lee County teachers/educator and active-duty military personnel), except $22 for adults on Thursday nights and $22 per ticket for groups of 10 or more.

BOX OFFICE: 919-774-4155,, or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-774-4155,, or

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NOTE: There will be a Sensory-Friendly Student Matinee Performance at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday Dec. 13th. For details, click here.


It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play (2003 comedy/drama): (Dramatic Publishing) and (

The Script: (Dramatic Publishing).

Philip Grecian (playwright): (Dramatic Publishing).

Peggy Taphorn (director and choreographer and Temple Theatre artistic director): (Temple Theatre bio), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Facebook page).


Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.