The Gift of the Magi


Airing December 11, 8:00 pm on WGLT 89.1 FM & WCBU 89.9 FM

Heartland Theatre Company announces the airing of another radio play for the holidays, The Gift of the Magi by Bob Cooner, inspired by and adapted from the well-known and beloved story by O. Henry. This adaptation includes more characters in the short story, which allows for many of Heartland’s actors to voice the characters.  If you enjoyed Halloween-inspired The War of the Worlds in October, the whole family will enjoy this heart-warming Christmas story, The Gift of the Magi.

Heartland Theatre’s second holiday production, professionally audio-recorded, will be broadcast on WGLT, Bloomington-Normal’s Public Media, at 8:00 pm on December 11. Listeners can tune in to 89.1 FM or stream at WCBU, Peoria Public Radio, will also air The Gift of the Magi simultaneously at 89.9 FM or

 “Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions will require everyone to create new holiday traditions this year,” said R.C. McBride, general manager, WCBU & WGLT. “The Gift of the Magi will be one safe and fun way to bring people together while the pandemic requires we remain physically apart. Grab some cookies, hot chocolate and gather with our community to listen all together.”  

The radio drama is directed by Heartland’s Sandra Zielinski, Professor Emerita from the School of Theatre and Dance at ISU. The recording features 11 accomplished actors that the community will recognize with a script that artfully expands the number of characters in the original story by O. Henry.

Rehearsals for the radio drama during the COVID-19 pandemic are conducted entirely on Zoom, with final audio-taping in a large room, with actors arriving at different times, and socially-distanced during the taping.  The recording is taped and edited by Tony Reimer, Sound Designer/Engineer.

The idea for the radio projects came to Heartland’s Artistic Director, Rhys Lovell, who was trying to find alternative theatre content during the Pandemic, as a way to maintain Heartland’s vital artistic presence in the community. Lovell talked with WGLT News Director Charlie Schlenker about the possibility of recreating the drama The War of the Worlds on WGLT, in the same style as the 1938 drama with Orson Welles. This process worked so well that WGLT and Heartland Theatre will continue their partnership through the holidays.

Directed by Sandra Zielinski

Sound Designer/Audio Engineer – Tony Reimer

Heartland Theatre Company has been providing provocative plays for the Central Illinois region since 1986. Located in Normal for nearly 35 years, Heartland is known for the quality of its productions and its 10-Minute Play Festivals. Heartland, along with all other theaters in the country, have been hard-hit by the restrictions of the Coronavirus.

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency.

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