“The 39 Steps” open Friday March 8 at the Darien Arts Center Stage, at the Weatherstone Studio at Darien Town Hall. The farce, based on Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps,” but reworked to be played by 6 multitalented actors playing 150 roles in 33 scenes tells the story of bachelor Richard Hannay who meets a mysterious woman at the theater who returns with him to his flat only to be murdered suddenly a few minutes later.
Suspected of murder, Hannay is on the run for the rest of the play, encountering the remaining 149 characters, played in quick costume changes by 5 other actors and two stage hands as they careen through London, Edinburgh and further afield. The show includes a train chase, several murders and wildly slapstick silliness among the remaining characters, all played by Geoffrey Gilbert, Linda Gilmore, PJ Morello, Melissa Schleier, Vic Terenzio and David Victor.
Directed by noted local director Donna McLaughlin Wyant, the show features a flexible set, costumes galore. We visited a rehearsal last Friday to find that the actors were already rehearsing in costume, since so much of the action features the multiple costumes the characters assume.
Based on our visit, this show looks to be entertaining and wildly funny. Director Wyant had put together a show that encompasses the 33 scenes and 110 sound cues that take Hitchcock’s suspense movie in a hilarious new direction.
Wyant noted that she has added 2 additional skilled actors to the original 4 character cast to make it possible to create this show in a small theater without the use of several backstage costume dressers to help execute the 15 second costume changes. Based on what we saw last Friday, it is sure to be a big hit.
This show represents the re-emergence of theater at the Darien Arts Center and looks to be a welcome addition to local theater life.
“The 39 Steps” runs March 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23rd at 8pm and March 10 and 17 at 2pm at the Darien Arts Center.