“It’s a Wonderful Life,” The Zephyr Theatre’s annual Christmas performance, will come to life again this year, despite recent coronavirus restrictions that have closed the theatre to audiences until Dec. 18.

The feel-good story about George Bailey, a despairing man until Clarence the angel sets him straight, became a classic film starring Jimmy Stewart in 1946.

The Zephyr’s staged version of the play proved to be very popular throughout December in 2018 and 2019.

“This year, we can’t have our audience come to us, so we are sending the performance to them,” said Calyssa Hall, The Zephyr’s executive director.

An audio version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” will be read by a cast — including many of the actors from The Zephyr’s past productions — and then offered to audience members as a recording.

“It will be an at-home experience,” Hall said.

With all the hallmarks of good radio — voices, music, sound effects — the 90-minute, full-length production should be a performance family members can gather around to hear. But there will be more to it.

When The Zephyr staff started to think about how to do theatre in a safe way during a COVID-19 Christmas, they had to think outside the box. And curiously, a box became part of the creative solution.

“We’ll create a box of merriment,” said Bil MacLeslie, The Zephyr’s managing director.

A box of surprises will accompany the audio play. Inside will be little gifts tied to specific scenes that nudge other senses — perhaps the smell of pine boughs, the taste of peppermint, and the feel of stationery— MacLeslie elaborated.

The goal is to trigger four of the five senses, and let them work together to create a full production seen in the mind’s eye.

“The box is something that hasn’t been done before,” MacLeslie said. Opening the surprises while listening to the play will let audience members interact with “Life.” “And we’re hoping that will be a memorable experience,” he said.

A two-person box of merriment costs $60 and is $100 for a four-person set – For more information about ordering the audio version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and its box of merriment visit stillwaterzephyrtheatre.org.

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