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Four actors play 150 characters Hitchcock’s ‘The 39 Steps’

Four actors take on multiple roles in Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps," showing at Three Stages on Oct. 23 & 24. Courtesy photo
Four actors take on multiple roles in Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps," showing at Three Stages on Oct. 23 & 24. Courtesy photo

Alfred Hitchcock’s award-winning “The 39 Steps” is Broadway’s longest-running comedy thriller. Winner of two Tony and Drama Desk Awards and London’s Oliver Award for Best New Comedy, “The 39 Steps” is packed with laughs, thrills and more than 150 unique characters — performed by four actors — and it will take the stage at Three Stages for three shows on Oct. 23-24.

“The 39 Steps” follows a man with a boring life as he meets a woman with a thick accent who says she’s a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered. Soon after, a mysterious organization called “The 39 Steps” is hot on the man’s trail in a nationwide manhunt.

A “gleefully theatrical riff on the film … fast and frothy … theater at its finest.” (New York Times)

The play’s concept calls for the entirety of the 1935 adventure film “The 39 Steps” to be performed nearly verbatim onstage, but with a cast of four. One actor plays the hero, Richard Hannay, an actress plays the three women with whom he has romantic entanglements and two other actors play every other character in the show: heroes, villains, men, women, children and even the occasional inanimate object. This often requires lighting fast quick changes and, occasionally, for them to play multiple characters at once. Thus the film’s serious spy story is played mainly for laughs, and the script is full of allusions to (and puns on the titles of) other Alfred Hitchcock films, including “Rear Window,” “Psycho” and “North by Northwest.”

““The great fun of ‘The 39 Steps’ is its invention.” (City Beat)

The play won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2007 and the What’s On Stage Award for Best Comedy 2007. The 2008 Roundabout Broadway production won the 2008 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience and Outstanding Lighting Design (Kevin Adams). It won two Tony Awards on June 15 2008 for Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design. It was nominated for four other Tonys: Best Play, Best Direction of a Play (Maria Aitken), Best Scenic Design of a Play (Peter McKintosh) and Best Costume Design of a Play (Peter McKintosh).

Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps” will perform at Three Stages at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Tickets are $29 to $45, with premium tickets available for $55; there is a 10 percent discount on Wednesday afternoon single tickets. Tickets may be purchased online at threestages.net or from Three Stages ticket office at (916) 608-6888 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Three Stages is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, facing East Bidwell Street.

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Posted by on Oct 12 2012.
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