Mile Square Theatre's "It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" will return to the stage Thursday night, featuring an all new cast and an all new appreciation for the show's message.
After the show's first successful run in the Monroe Theatrespace last winter, the professional company decided to keep it in their repertoire in hopes of making it a local holiday tradition.
The play is based on Frank Capra's 1946 film "It's A Wonderful Life" starring Jimmy Stewart that has become a major member of the canon of Christmas entertainment.
Stewart plays George Bailey, a man who learns just how much he means to his community when an angel shows him what life in their small town of would have been like had he never been born.
It's something both the film and Joe Landry's stage play urge us all to consider.
Mile Square Theatre's Founder and Executive Director Chris O'Connor believes it's an especially poignant message in the aftermath of October's major storm.
"I think what happened with Hurricane Sandy is that we're surrounded by George Baileys," O'Connor said.
Bailey gives up his own dreams and comforts for the sake of others, often without recognition. O'Connor said that was also true of thousands of volunteers who pitched in to help with relief efforts in Hoboken.
When the storm had passed, O'Connor questioned the viability of putting on the production. MST company member Charlie Kevin, who plays the villanous old Mr. Potter - among other characters - lost his home on the Weehawken waterfront.
"Would people even want to come and see a piece of theatre?" O'Connor wondered. "But we thought, 'No, we need to keep doing what we do and the show must go on."
The production is set in a 1940s radio studio with five actors playing dozens of characters - citizens of the town of Beford Falls - in the radio play "It's A Wonderful Life."
The cast features Martin Landry and Eliza Simpson as George and Mary Bailey under the direction of Mary Kate Burke.
Other than a few minor tweaks to the set and the fresh cast, O'Connor hopes the play will move audience members the same way it did in 2011.
Mile Square Theatre's "It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" opens Thursday, December 6 at 8 p.m. at the Monroe Theatrespace, 710 Monroe Street, in Hoboken. For more information, visit milesquaretheatre.org.