A newly written adaptation of the Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life will be Play by Play’s finale reading for 2020. Play by Play, Stage East’s online theatre and play reading class, spent the fall studying the most produced plays of the 2019-20 U.S. season. In its final session—on Thursday, December 31 at 7 pm—the class will continue Stage East’s New Year’s Eve tradition. All are welcome to join the Zoom class for the reading; link below.

Brothers Sam (from left), Henry and Frank Schuth will appear with their father, Brian Schuth, in a Zoom production of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life,’ presented as part of Stage East’s popular Play by Play series. Photo of the boys performing at EAC in April 2019 by Brandy Argir; check out a video including clips from this performance and an interview with Sam here.

Brian Schuth, Stage East’s president, wrote the new adaptation and will play Martini in this year’s Wonderful Life alongside his three sons: Sam (Ernie), Henry (Harry), and Frank (George Bailey). The father was quick to point out that this is not the family’s first rodeo. “This is my third Wonderful Life,” Schuth said, “The first one happened a (wonderful) life ago when my kids were small – I made Sam play piano, Frank was one of the young kids, and Henry did the sound effects… which included a trash can filled with water into which things got plunged to make drowning noises.”
Sam, the eldest son, remembers this production well: “[I got] a huge book of silent movie music from Mark Devoto, and I had such a fun time figuring out how to score the show. I also got to act from the piano, so it really was the best of both worlds for me.”
Frank, the youngest Schuth, recalled his first time performing on New Year’s Eve: “I will never forget the feeling of doing the two shows and then sprinting downtown to watch the Maple Leaf drop, followed by an hour of mingling before the famed Sardine Drop.”
Henry, the middle Schuth, shared a similar sentiment about two of his favorite New Year’s pieces: “From the chaotic absurdity of ‘Jest Desserts’ to finding a moment of magic with Frank in ‘Abandon All Hope,’ some of my most treasured and joyful acting memories happened on New Years Eve.”

Brian Schuth (hand raised) rehearses for Stage East’s 2019 ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ with Johnny Lynch (from left), Anson Bergonzi, John Leavitt, Audrey Bradbury, Kathleen Dunbar, Patricia Marie Babin, Don Bailey and Carolee Bier.

“While there is a pang of loss in the necessity of a remote show,” Henry continued, “I would not have been able to be a part of it otherwise, and I am warmed to my heart to be doing a story that has been there for me my entire life.”
Sam echoed his brother’s sentiment. “I’m actually really grateful for this opportunity to participate,” he said, “Living in the Portland area, we can’t always find the time to make it up for New Year’s, and it’s really nice to be able to participate in one of my favorite Eastport traditions this year.”
Frank agreed saying, “Even though I haven’t spent the last couple of New Year’s celebrations in Eastport, and definitely cannot this year, it is still what defines my enjoyment of the holiday.”
Their father wrapped things up more directly saying, “As much as doing ‘remote theater’ sucks… it does make it possible for me to do a show with my community and with my now obscenely grown children…” 

You can see the Schuths on Thursday, December 31 from 7-8:30 pm alongside Anson Bergonzi*, Audrey Bradbury*, Manuela Brice, Duke Carlton, Madeline Collins, Kathleen Dunbar*, Brian Giles, Victoria Ishman, Mark Macey, John Newell, Marlene Russ*, Jenie Smith, Laurie Sullivan, Mark Tappan, Kim Vogel*, and Rosalie Woodward* at the link below: 

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 983 4629 3962

*These cast members were also part of Stage East’s 2019 production of a ‘live radio broadcast’-style It’s a Wonderful Life; read about that production here: https://eastportartscenter.org/2020/01/newcomers-and-veterans-alike-drawn-to-stage-easts-wonderful-life/

Announcer Brian Schuth, with trusty ‘sign girl’ Eliza Swann, kept the audience cheering, laughing, and even booing on command throughout Stage East’s 2019 It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Photo by Robin Farrin.