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39 Steps

a Farce
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by Patrick Barlow

COMPANY : Onstage Atlanta, Inc. [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Academy Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4454

SHOWING : May 03, 2013 - May 19, 2013

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Adapted from Hitchcock’s celebrated 1935 film, Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps is the story of the dashing Richard Hannay and his heroic efforts to solve the riddle of the 39 Steps while staying a step ahead of desperate Nazi spies. Equally inspired by Hitchcock and Monty Python, this entertaining thriller is a tongue-in-cheek homage to the spy thriller genre and all things Hitchcock. Four actors play multiple roles throughout the show which includes train chases, missing fingers, plane crashes, and dancing girls, Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps is, in the end, a joyous celebration of the power of theatrical imagination


CAST & CREW LIST
Director David Klein
Sound Designer Barbara Cole Uterhardt
Light Designer Jeff Martin
Stage Manager Maggie McEnerny
Assistant Stage Manager Isaac Moran
Stage Manager Jim Walsh
Cast Adam Bailey
Cast Barbara Cole Uterhardt
Cast Charlie Miller
Cast Geoff Uterhardt
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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All the Comedy Intact
by playgoer
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
4.0
"The 39 Steps" mines Alfred Hitchcock's movie for comedy, and Onstage Atlanta's production takes every nugget from that mine that it can. It tries too hard to do so at times, however. This is particularly evident at the start, when the cast of four bring set pieces on, move them, rearrange them, and re-rearrange them multiple times. The intention of director Dr. David Klein seems to be to give a preview of the non-stop mayhem that is to follow. All it ends up doing, though, is delaying the start of the true fun. A simpler "oops" moment of a misplaced item being surreptitiously moved would have been much more effective.

Physical comedy works well in this show, with splendid fence work by Barbara Cole and Googie Uterhardt and quick hat changes by Adam Bailey and Charlie Miller. All the written-in bits work, as do many of the added-in bits. It's all fun, but too rarely is it inspired fun that seems to arise spontaneously from the impish nature of a character. I saw a less polished version of "The 39 Steps" at Performing Arts North a few weeks ago, but it was sparked by the performance of a Clown 2 (Marissa Fleming) who seemed to relish chewing the scenery, occasionally breaking herself up, but supplying a true element of delight to the proceedings. Here, it's more a matter of running through the blocking by the numbers. It's fun, but not spontaneous.

Part of the problem is the casting of Googie Uterhardt as the male lead. The role calls for a devilishly handsome man with wavy hair and a pencil-thin mustache, and it works best with an actor with matinee idol looks. Mr. Uterhardt isn't classically handsome, his hair is long more than wavy, and his mustache is more the width of a crayon than of a pencil. The balance of the show is thrown off by having an obvious comedian in the central role of Richard Hannay.

Barbara Cole Uterhardt is more successful in the femme fatale roles of Annabella, Margaret, and Pamela, although only the first of her wigs truly suits the character. She's not an obvious comedienne, and her good looks and natural elegance compound the humor of the silliness she's involved in. She also has some nifty costumes to wear.

The two clowns (Charlie Miller and Adam Bailey) are called upon to portray a dizzying number of characters, often in consecutive lines of dialogue. They both expend a lot of energy in giving each character a different spin or accent, with Charlie Miller perhaps the more successful of the two. Blocking ruins one of Adam Bailey's more important scenes. His character is supposed to be missing the upper joint of one little finger. That can be successfully mimed if the back of the hand is always downstage, but the blocking here shows the bending of the finger when the palm faces downstage for most of the scene.

Jeffery Martin's set and lighting design work well, with simple design elements like a rolling door keeping scene changes manageable. The set is dominated by a freestanding set of arches used for a variety of purposes, with inserts used for the theatre scenes that are crucial at the start and end of the show. There are a lot of props and set pieces coming on and going off, with an occasional tinkle or clatter (some intended; some not). It works well in the space, although the design probably wasn't intended originally for the Academy Theatre.

There has been a lot of venue swapping lately in the metro Atlanta community theatre world. Onstage Atlanta wasn't allowed to use its new space because of a fire marshal's ruling; a similar ruling has affected Live Arts Theatre's "The Importance of Being Earnest" (on MUCH shorter notice). The Academy Theatre itself has been given its walking papers for next month, and Duluth's New Dawn Theater will have to move within the year. There was also a scare in Norcross, as the city announced it was reviewing all its relationships, including with Lionheart Theatre. No wonder that the Alley Stage in Marietta is hosting multiple theatre groups; work where you can for as long as you can, for tomorrow, who knows where you'll be? [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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