Hancock County District Attorney Matt Foster (left) plays George Bailey while Ashley Terwilliger (center) has the role of Mary Bailey and 5-year-old Aislinn Foster (Matt’s daughter) is Young Mary in The Grand’s upcoming production of “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.” PHOTO BY STEVE FULLER

Grand to stage classic Christmas story “It’s A Wonderful Life”

ELLSWORTH — In his first year as executive director at The Grand, Nick Turner has made the idea of community a main focus.

And so it is not a surprise, after a successful production of “Our Town” this fall, that the show for the holiday season is another well-known, small-town story: that of the everyman idealist George Bailey in the live radio play production of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

The show will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15; at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. Tickets are $20 for adults and seniors, $18 for Grand members and $10 for students aged 17 and under.

The play’s storyline generally follows that of the beloved 1946 Frank Capra film, in which George Bailey — facing financial ruin and arrest — questions if the world would be better off without him. Through some help from on high, Bailey is shown just how much he has meant to others.

The cast, as was the case with “Our Town,” is a mix of stage veterans and those who have either not acted before or not in many years. Such is the case with the two lead actors in the play, George (played by Hancock County District Attorney Matt Foster) and Mary Bailey (played by Ashley Terwilliger).

Foster was on stage as early as age 5 or 6, he said, as a member of The Ellsworth Players and later part of the drama club at Ellsworth High School. He figured that this role in “Wonderful Life” will be his first time on stage in about 25 years.

Foster landed the lead role by accident, in a way. He brought his daughter, 5-year-old Aislinn, to audition (she got the role of Young Mary) and found he was one of the few men in the audience. And Turner needed male actors.

Terwilliger had a similarly serendipitous start. On the night of auditions, she was supposed to be rehearsing with her a cappella group Ellacappella but that rehearsal was cancelled. So she came to The Grand, instead, where she has acted before (including in the 2016 production of “The Producers”).

Because it is a radio-play version of the movie, the show at The Grand will feature sound effects done “live, in front of everybody,” Turner explained. Local DJs including Stu Marckoon will fill the role of announcers during performances of the show.

In the lead-up to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” The Grand is also partnering with Seaboard Federal Credit Union. A sponsor of the show, the credit union is holding its annual “Sock-In-The-Box” event, in which it collects donated pairs of new socks to be given to local homeless shelters.

Socks can be dropped off at Seaboard’s local locations (177 Main St. in Bucksport and 200 Main St. in Ellsworth) or at The Grand through Friday, Dec. 15.

For more info about the show, call 667-9500 and visit www.grandonline.org.

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller worked at The Ellsworth American from 2012 to early 2018. He covered the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast's Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland.
Steve Fuller

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