Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Climbing The 39 Steps

Good Wednesday morning, Sara here.

Last night, my friend Meghan Hughes and I had the chance to attend the opening of The 39 Steps at the Aronoff Center downtown. Often, media professionals get tickets for opening nights of the Broadway Across America series shows, and I was excited to get my hands on these tickets. I'd heard a lot about the play, and wanted to check it out for myself.

The 39 Steps is a live theater performance of the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie. Hitchcock directed the original version back in 1935 and it starred Robert Donat. Hitchcock based the movie on a 1915 novel of the same name. The story follows a man who tries to help a counterespionage agent. When she is killed, he's wrongly accused of her murder. He embarks on a journey that takes him across the countryside. He must stop a spy ring and save himself, all while looking for The 39 Steps. It's safe to say that this is a complicated storyline. I don't want to give away any more of the plot!

The Broadway version of this story has won several national awards and been nominated for several Tony's. It only has four actors in the national tour production, all of whom play a multitude of characters within the two hour timeframe. The actors also use a limited set design to create a number of scenes.

When we sat down, both Meghan and I remarked we didn't know what to expect. Two hours later, we both walked out pleased.

The 39 Steps isn't meant to be a serious production. Instead, the four actors play up the British humor and madcap situations that define the main character's trek through the countryside. The "camp value" is really played up. Just the creativity involved in pulling off the show with a limited cast is cause enough for laughter. Meghan and I agreed a real highlight was seeing two of the actors play more than four characters at once. That happened several times throughout the show.

All in all, I think the The 39 Steps was a delight. It's a great show for anyone looking to have a laugh and leave smiling. The show's on now through March 14.

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