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The 39 Steps
a Comedy
by Patrick Barlow

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 4908

SHOWING : May 20, 2016 - June 12, 2016



Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have "The 39 Steps," a fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre! This 2-time Tony® and Drama Desk Award-winning treat is packed with nonstop laughs, over 150 zany characters (played by a ridiculously talented cast of 4), an on-stage plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers and some good old-fashioned romance!

Director George Contini
Annabella, Margaret, Pamela Stephanie Friedman
Clown Tony Larkin
Clown John Markowski
Usher Ryan Stillings
Usher Jillian Walzer
Richard Hannay Jacob York
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7.0 on the Richter Scale of Ground-Shaking Laughter
by playgoer
Thursday, June 2, 2016
"The 39 Steps" is a comic riff on the novel by John Buchan and its film version, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The Stage Door Players’ production takes the film concept very much to heart, with Chuck Welcome’s set design resembling an art deco movie theatre, replete with red curtains and flanking box seats, the walls sporting the well-known Hitchcock profile caricature from his TV series.

Before the scheduled start time, the curtains part to reveal a screen on which cartoons are projected. Two uniformed ushers (Jillian Walzer and Ryan Stillings) greet the audience. As show time is reached, the feature movie begins. After credits, we see Jacob York on screen, introducing the story. Before long, the screen is raised and we get to the live-action portion of the show. And lively and action-filled it is! It all ties up with a final filmed sequence giving us our happy ending.

The joy of "The 39 Steps" comes largely from the rapid role-changing by the two clowns (Tony Larkin and John Markowski). The rest of the joy comes from the performances of Jacob York, as (innocent) murder suspect Richard Hannay and Stephanie Friedman, as three women in his life. Director George Contini runs them through their paces in a series of stylized and overblown moments, all designed to amp up the comedy (just as Rial Ellsworth excellent sound is amped up at one point to nearly drown out the dialogue, giving Mr. York and Ms. Friedman ample opportunity to shoot peeved glances at the sound booth). If it will get a laugh, these actors and this director will go for it.

The production is fairly handsome, with George Deavours’ wigs and Jim Alford’s costumes centering the action in 1930’s England and Scotland. J.D. Williams’ lighting design is as complicated as the sound and costume plots, with action highlighted hither and yon by spotlights as Mr. Welcome’s set deconstructs into ladders and doors for chase scenes. Kathy Ellsworth sturdy props impress too, especially a couple of impossibly thick sandwiches. Fight choreography, by Matthew and Brianna Bass, is laughably fake at most points, adding to the anything-for-a-laugh comedy style.

The actors go all-in to make the jokey script come to life. Hitchcock film titles are snuck into the dialogue, with obvious lip-smacking relish, and bits are repeated, usually adhering to the rule of three. The show is filled with belly laughs and chuckles of delight and chortles of unexpected glee. If you feel the ground moving, it must be the combined effect of all audience members at Stage Door Players laughing with abandon at the silly hijinks of this super-talented cast of four (plus two talented ushers who do most of the heavy lifting in scene changes). [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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