Thursday, April 1, 2010

The 40 Steps would be too much! The 39 Steps? Just right!!

(Strang Err's On A Train. Behlmann is falsely accused and making a break for it atop a speeding locomotive! Go, Behlmann, go!)

Last night it was my extreme pleasure to go see The 39 Steps at New World Stages. The play is in previews now and opens officially on 4/15. This is the start of the show's Off-Broadway run after a very successful two-year, Tony-winning run on Broadway. I had never gotten around to seeing the show on Broadway and was very excited to hear it was transferring to Off-Bway.

For those of you not familiar with the premise. the 39 Steps is an old Hitchcock movie from 1935, and the play is pretty much an exact retelling of the film in it's entirety - except on stage the 100+ characters are all played by only four actors. The film's plot involves a serious spy story, but onstage it is all smartly played for laughs. The play version is also filled with shout-outs to other Hitchcock classics, with sound and sight gags referencing movies like Psycho, The Birds and North by Northwest. There are also puns inserted throughout the script name-checking several more Hitchcock movies as well. As a Hitchcock nerd, it's incredibly fun stuff. As a theater-goer it's a jolly-good time.

(Kmac won't be swayed by his dashing good looks and actual innocence of murder... not yet anyway.)

Personally, what makes this show even more exciting than usual for me, is that two of my friends from college are starring in the show! Super-Congrats to John Bellman who plays the hero, Richard Hannay, and to Kate MacCluggage who plays three women whom Hannay becomes romantically involved with throughout the story. They both give such dynamic performances and share a wonderful stage rapport. I'm so proud and happy for them! The other two actors, Jamie Jackson and Cameron Folmar do an excellent job of playing every other character in the show (sometimes as men, women, children and even some elements of nature). Often times these two play multiple characters at once and wind up having conversations with themselves as they flip through assorted hats and accents. It's really fantastic and as an audience member you can marvel at the craft of the show without it ever overwhelming the experience of enjoying the story. The direction, the lighting and the sound design are all great, and used to superb effect in creating so many distinct environments.

I hope the play has a long successful run at New World Stages. You can go here to purchase tickets and look here for discount codes as well. This show is definitely worth it!

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