Bringing a favorite holiday movie to the stage and filming it made “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” a learning opportunity for SUNY Oswego students. Five free virtual showings will unwrap Dec. 11 through 13.

To present the play this semester, director Jonel Langenfeld-Rial’s theatre students and Francisco Suarez’s broadcasting students collaborated. while meeting all state and local COVID-19  health guidelines, in an effort to provide some holiday cheer.

One of the challenges involved collecting the right natural sound and effects.

“I think one of the hardest parts is finding the most accurate sound that would make the best sound effect because it is a 1940s radio play,” said student Kody Reese, who serves as a foley artist, responsible for sound and sound effects for the production.

This meant a process of exploration and discovery in “finding the objects to make the sounds pretty accurate along with how they would actually sound, and if the sounds that we made were actually accurate to what it was like,” Reese said.

The process of filming the play also had to adapt and evolve under the current circumstances.

Senior broadcasting major Emma Leavy, a student of Suarez who has taken part in several projects including directing last year’s “SUNY Oswego Holiday TV Special,” served as the film producer for this assignment.

“We chose to get black curtains in the background and we taught all of them how to do a three-point lighting setup,” Leavy said. “We kind of let them learn what it was like to act within that small frame. It was kind of trial and error the whole time because no one’s really done this before.”

While students worked on the sound and visual aspects, a learning curve existed for the student actors as well.

This was rising senior theatre major Jared Mills’ first major role in a production, playing the main character, George Bailey, so well known through Jimmy Stewart’s iconic performance in the film.

“Being new and being the main role, it’s a whole different experience when you’re not with everybody and you can’t chat,” Mills said. “I’ve been in the audience of things like this before, and I know you have to wait for applause, you have all these disturbances, but also all these interactions you can have with the audience.”

All three students agreed that accomplishing the work under the current circumstances helped them in their respective roles and toward their individual career goals.

Through a partnership with the Broadway on Demand streaming service, virtual showings of “It’s A Wonderful Life” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, with 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. shows Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12 and 13. For reservations for one of the free showings, visit

-- Written by Tomas Rodriguez, Class of 2021