De Smet Dionysian Players Hit the Airwaves With Christmas Classic

De Smet Dionysian Players Hit the Airwaves With Christmas Classic
Debbie Higgins

Brought to you this Christmas by the De Smet Dionysian Players: a professionally-recorded audio version of the 1946 American movie classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s a story so many of us have watched time and again with a core message that resonates perhaps this year more than ever — acts of kindness can be life-altering.  

“With COVID restrictions in place, a radio production was a great option,” said De Smet Jesuit Theater Director Kurt Knoedelseder. “It was a way to keep our theater family active safely and produce something to share with the De Smet Jesuit community for the holiday season.” Twenty actors portrayed 60 roles in the production, wearing masks in small groups, distancing across the stage, and reading from scripts marked up with director’s notes. Because the actors did not need to memorize their lines, the show required fewer rehearsals.

It was, however, still a fantastic learning experience for the Dionysian Players. “Because this show is so well-known, I reminded the actors that many people who listened to our recording would be playing the movie in their heads. It was critical to get the characters just right,” said Mr. Knoedelseder.

“When you take away the memorization and the blocking, playing a character becomes a lot more straightforward,” said Ryan Hughes ’21, who played George Bailey. “It was all about speaking like the character in a way that seemed natural. It was also challenging to make sure I kept the same voice throughout.”

Bella Leonard, a senior at Visitation Academy who voiced the role of Mary Hatch, was grateful to be a cast member. “As an actor, I did not realize how much I played off of my castmates’ emotions and reactions until my first read through. It was truly like no other experience for me,” she said. 

The performance was recorded on December 10 by Scott Harris, a professional sound designer. While Mr. Knoedelseder originally planned on four hours to complete the performance, the Dionysian Players sailed through in just two. “They did an amazing job,” he said.

“I am glad that we were able to re-enact the movie the way we did,” said David Totty ’21, who voiced the role of Clarence. “Normally we would have been rehearsing a musical during this time, but due to the pandemic, we could not do that. Working with this group of actors has been really fun and memorable.” 

Bravo to the Cast!

Brady Burke ’21

Dominc Del Pietro ’22

Nico Del Pietro ’21

Sam Duffy ’24

Seamus Flanagan ’22

Matthew Hodge ’24

Ryan Hughes ’21

Justin Kennedy ’21     

Bella Leonard (Visitation Academy)  

Chloe McGinnis (St. Joseph’s Academy)

Olivia O’Malley (St. Joseph’s Academy)

Lily Pingleton (St. Joseph’s Academy)

Beau Reichert ’22

Henry Right ’21

Aidan Sanders ’24

Jacob Sasfai ’21                                  

Chris Schilligo-Wheeler ’22                

David Totty ’21

Enjoy the Show! It's a Wonderful Life



Close up of someone holding a script with the words visible.
Two male and two female actors holding scripts onstage in front of microphones.
Three male and one female actor standing in a row in front of microphones onstage.
View from behind of female and male actor looking at each other.
Three male actors holding scripts and smiling at the camera on stage.
Small group of male and female actors reading from scripts in front of a microphone.
View from behind actors on stage, reading from scripts.
Man seated at table with papers in foreground, with teenagers holding scripts in background.
Actors in small groups standing around microphones on a stage.
Large group of male and female teenagers posing for the camera.

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