The Tabard Theatre Company is ringing in the holiday season with its rendition of It’s a Wonderful Life, a stage version of the Frank Capra film beloved by generations of fans. It’s a charming and touching story, in which a happy ending is anticipated. Performing it as if it were a live radio drama in progress provides a new twist on an old classic, and director Cathy Cassetta chosen a talented cast. The actors cleverly bring to life the characters in the film, with five or six voices coming out of one person.

The behind-the-scenes work that’s usually hidden is brought front and center in Joe Landry’s 1996 adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life. The production tears through the concept of a fourth wall, creating closeness between the actors and the audience. The audience is made aware of backstage tensions that are hidden from view.

Landry’s story still focuses on Bedford Falls’ hero George Bailey. The only difference: The movie’s dozens of characters are replaced with a cast of nine. The actors portray radio performers with a versatility that’s hard to match. Ron Packard, the voice for George Bailey, has the range necessary to make us hear George grow from a little boy to a young man. Karen DeHart, the voice for Mary Hatch Bailey, raises the bar as she grows from a little girl to a mother of four.

Kurt Gravenhorst, who plays Clarence Oddbody, Harry Bailey and Guiseppe Martini, just to name a few, does an amazing job of getting into character and portraying a wide range of types. Craig S. Engen, Steve Schneickert, Irene Trapp and Christine Wait also deserve mention. Their work is expertly crafted with perfect timing and clarity. Jeremy Harris backs them up on the piano, while Jason Minsky creates the sound effects that are so essential to the creation of a radio show of the period.

Stepping inside the theater takes the audience back in time to studio WBFR in New York City on Christmas Eve, 1946. Costume designer Marilyn Watts successfully brings together pieces that represent an era when people dressed to impress. The play even includes hilarious renditions of commercials of the 1940s, from hair tonic to Spiffy Soap.

A pre-show demonstration is available for those wishing to see how each sound is made by Minsky during the course of the evening. For example, jellybeans dropped onto a baking sheet emulate capsules falling to the floor, ribbon candy hit with a hammer brings the impression of glass breaking and corn flakes crushed on a baking sheet imitate ice cracking.

It’s a Wonderful Life
Runs through Dec. 18; $10-35
Theatre on San Pedro Square, San Jose