Tri-State Players to perform Christmas-themed radio shows

Matamoras. Enjoy A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life; two shows for the price of one!

| 10 Nov 2023 | 03:36

If you’re looking to ease into the holiday season, the Tri-State Players have a festive show planned. On November 24, 25, and 26, the theater troupe will put on a live radio show featuring the stories of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. The show takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Riverview Inn, 402 Shay Lane, Matamoras.

Director Micah Sweeney noted that what makes these performances unique (aside form the stellar reads by the actors involved) is that each performer dresses and acts as radio professionals from the 1950s. The production also features live music, a Foley artist, as well as pre-recorded sound effects and backdrops to bring each performance to life.

The cast includes a variety of talented locals, including 80-year old Dingman’s Ferry resident Gisela Di Carlo-Hastie and 10-year Lena Jacobs, who plays both Tiny Tim and Zuzu Bailey.

Other performers include Samuel Mitschele-Dauenhauer, 27, of Lords Valley, who will perform with the group for the first time as Bob Cratchit and George Bailey. He has previously played Mr. Body in the Ritz Playhouse production of Clue, and Ichabod Crane in the Wallenpaupack Area High School production of The legend of Sleepy Hollow. Ernie Hartnett of Milford will play Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and the angel Joseph in It’s a Wonderful Life. Hartnett previously performed with the group over the summer in their tribute to Humphrey Bogart. He has performed in several community theater productions over the years, including Mame, Hello Dolly, Anything Goes, Carousel, South Pacific, and more. He is dedicating this upcoming performance to his children Matt and Meghan, and his sister-in-law, Ann Fagan.

Sweeney expressed excitement about this upcoming performance. “The first radio dramas I directed were It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street at the Dingmans Ferry Theater. I felt those two performances captured lightning in a bottle and I wanted to bring that lightning to the Riverview.”

He added, “The audience will especially want to pay attention to Scrooge and George Bailey. Radio dramas allow us to pair two stories together. By presenting the stories back to back with minimal sets, the audience has a unique experience to compare and contrast elements in ways not commonly experienced. For example, over the summer we performed a tribute to Humphrey Bogart featuring the African Queen and Casablanca. The audience had the opportunity to experience stories which highlighted the scope of Bogart’s range of characters.”

Sweeney said he chose the stories of “Scrooge” and George Bailey after reading about how they are essentially “photo negatives of each other.” He said in A Christmas Carol, spirits aid Scrooge into realizing how miserable his life is, which results in a sort of spiritual conversion toward generosity. And in It’s a Wonderful Life, a spirit aids George Bailey into realizing how wonderful his life is, which also results in a conversion of feeling gratitude.

A Christmas Carol holds a special place in my heart. It’s a story about redemption. A man, hardened by life, is providentially restored to a right relationship with humanity and the divine. A series of events once hardened my spirit and turned me away from Christmas as well. Providentially, I was restored like Scrooge. It’s a Wonderful Life also holds a special place in my heart, but for different reasons. When I was younger, I had George Bailey’s dreams of leaving my hometown. The same series of events that hardened my spirit toward Christmas also anchored me to the area. In a broadcast, the late Paul Harvey once said, ‘Bloom where you are planted.’ That broadcast was a turning point for me. Since that time, I quit bemoaning not being able to leave and began taking advantages of the opportunities that were afforded to me. I’ve been happier and more grateful since,” said Sweeney.

In the run up to the show, Sweeney also gave thanks to the folks behind the scenes who make these performances possible, including lighting director Kevin Riker, assistant director Kate Albrecht, and producer Deb Albrecht. He also gave thanks to the Riverview Inn for supplying the venue and rehearsal space, and Bethel Woods for its advertising help.

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. For tickets and more, visit