published: Friday, December 14, 2012
'It's a Wonderful Life' comes to life
ROXANNE BROWN | Staff Writer
For years, Angelo and Jennifer Caponi have been collecting memorabilia having to do with the 1946 classic movie of "It's a Wonderful Life" - one of their favorite movies of all time, according to the duo.
Maybe that is why they are filled with so much anticipation of the upcoming production of "It's a Wonderful Life, a Live Radio Play," to be performed by the Caponi's Cannolis School of the Arts drama group the Caponis lead, starting at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at First United Methodist Church of Clermont, 950 Seventh Street.
"The show is so cool. I think people will really like it. The kids are doing it like it's 1946 and like they are in a live working radio studio," Jennifer Caponi said. "We're doing live sound effects like they would have in that era and all the actors will be dressed and have their hair done 1940's style."
"This play is actually meant for adults so at first, it was a challenge. The kids have come a long way though. They've really impressed us with their professionalism and focus."
Since 2005 when the Caponis founded the Caponi's Cannolis School of the Arts, members of the afterschool program's show choir and drama group have been gaining recognition throughout the county and beyond for their many ventures.
Members range in age and are made up of students from kindergarten through seventh grade.
Angelo Caponi is a chorus teacher at Minneola Elementary School and Jennifer Caponi, a former teacher there is an actress, having appeared in many commercials and other shoots.
The Caponi's Cannolis show choir has performed at places like Disney and many of Clermont's signature events.
They were also chosen to audition for America's Got Talent in 2010 and have sung the National Anthem for an Orlando Magic home annually for years.
Each year, the drama group chooses a musical and after weeks of rehearsals, put on a fabulous show.
Included on their bill list are musicals such as Annie Jr. and Willie Wonka. In the spring, the drama students will perform "Beauty and the Beast."
Their production of "It's a Wonderful Life, a Live Radio Play," however, will mark the first time the choir and the drama group will partner for a complete show that will touch on the many aspects of theatre, including the live radio play style featuring live sound effects, actors reading from scripts and actors playing multiple parts like actors often did when live on-air radio productions were rampant.
A dinner show featuring the choir singing their rendition of the Muppet Medley and many other Christmas songs will start off the evening, followed by dinner for attendees and the drama group's production.
"We love this story so much and we are so excited about this presentation," Caponi said.
For the actors, many of whom had never heard of or seen "It's a Wonderful Life," the production seemed daunting.
After weeks of rehearsal since early September and a newfound interest in the storyline by many of the actors, the kids seem just as excited about the show.
"I've performed in many musicals, but this is not a musical, so it's kind of different. It's a pretty good story though, and I think it makes sense," Said Megan Pemberton, 11, who will be playing old lady Gower and Mr. Welch.
Caponi said the children have had to rely more on facial expressions and deeper emotion instead of on songs and movement to portray the same things.
"We've had to challenge them by showing emotion, instead of dancing and singing or talking to someone. This is more fast paced with sometimes, what are 30-second scene transitions and costume changes," she said.
Harrison Keaton, 14, who is playing the lead role of the beloved George Bailey, said he feels that he would have liked it "back then" (in 1946).
Keaton also said he's been able to really relate to Bailey's character.
"I could see how he's gotten frustrated with all the bad things at the time that were happening to him. It's happened to me too, I've felt kind of like that," Keaton said, adding that he'd seen the movie prior to acting in the play and thinks it sends a good message.
Perhaps the most unique thing about the play however, is the live sound effects that will be going on and that many people have never witnessed in person, since technology has taken over the use of things like bottles, paper and boxes filled with certain materials to generate sounds - like slamming doors, footsteps in the snow, the sound of bells when angels get their wings the original story made famous and many more -- as needed in the play.
That's exactly what will be used for the sound effects Wednesday, as Olivia Webber, 15, the foley artist - or sound effects person - has come to know all too well.
"You have to time the sound effects perfectly so you have to really listen and watch the actors. It's also helped me see how important sound effects are too, because without them, the actors would just be talking and that's it," said Webber, who will also be playing a board member, Ed, and Binky in the play.
"This play is really different and I think people will really like it. It uses facial and voice expressions and that's the best kind of acting because it really does show more emotion than other more physical movements."
"You have to think deeper to get the emotions you want."
For information or to purchase tickets, call 407-319-3992 or visit www.caponimusic.com .