Freshman play delivers unique flair

Members of the John Brown University freshman class are busy putting the final touches on the fall production of It’s A Wonderful Life, a play based off the classic holiday film.

While the story is well known, director Jan Lauderdale and her cast have found creative ways to display the famous story in a new light.

Lauderdale said recruiting is one of the most challenging aspects when putting on the freshman play every year. In order to encourage freshmen to audition, she attends the Early Registration Program in hopes of finding potential cast and crewmembers.

Another obstacle Lauderdale must face is deciding which play to put on each year. This year, It’s A Wonderful Life proved to be exactly what Lauderdale was looking for.

“This is not a Christmas story. It’s A Wonderful Life is a story that is taking place during the holidays,” Lauderdale said. “People mistakenly take this story as a Christmas story because it is aired each year during the holidays.

To break the holiday feel, the setting has been completely flipped. In lieu of the original setting, Lauderdale has decided to set the story in a radio station during the 1940’s. Students will be portraying actors who are reenacting the play on the radio.

In addition, each actor will be playing multiple characters.

“The actors are focusing on character development with this play,” said Lauderdale. “To teach them about character development, I have them come up with a secret for each character they play. That way the character becomes real to them.”

Freshman Mariah Makil portrays three different characters in the play, ranging from being secretive and gossipy to loud and outspoken. She said that in order to keep her characters distinct, she created a story for each one.

Freshman Lori Kyles is in charge of creating sound effects that assist the audience in imagining the events taking place, all while staying true to the time period.

“We have to form the sound from material that would have been available during the 1940’s,” said Lauderdale.

To develop the sound effect of walking on snow, Kyles, while on stage, takes a box, sprinkles corn flakes on top of it and walks on the box to produce the sound of snow.

“It is extremely different than anything I have done before,” said Kyles.

The freshman performance of It’s A Wonderful Life will begin on Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Those interested in attending the production are encouraged to purchase their tickets ahead of time either online at, or by calling the box office at 479-524-7382. Tickets will also be available at the door prior to the performance.