BWW Reviews: McCallum Theatre Delivers 'Brilliant Craic' to Austin with Alfred Hitchcock's THE 39 STEPS
There is indeed so much potential in Austin's young performers. An especially talented group can be found at McCallum Fine Arts Academy, as evidenced in Thursday night's production of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps.
Hitchcock's 1935 film was originally a classic spy whodunit, involving dark and beautiful women and timeless heroes deep within the grips of World War II. But in 2006, Patrick Barlow turned the story into a delightful, fast-paced Monty Python-esque British farce and opened the show in London, winning the Olivier Award (Britain's Tony equivalent) for best new comedy.
McCallum's group of talented artists did this piece proud, led by the dashing Mr. Connor Barr. With his thin, British pencil mustache, Mr. Barr supplied the role of Richard Hannay with just the right amount of well-played wit, perfectly executed with that classic Python tongue-in-cheek Brit style that we are all know and love. This play simply doesn't work without an exceptionally strong leading man, and Connor Barr most certainly carries his own weight. But more importantly, the ensemble for this show needs to be able to wear many hats...literally-and at a rapid fire pace. Janine Dworin is an exceptionally versatile and talented performer. Ms. Dworin is known to be a fine singer, but in this piece she proves that her acting chops are equally impressive. As the spy, Annabella Schmidt, Dworin delivers the finest of German dialects with brilliant humor and proper vocal timbre before switching with the greatest of ease to a perfectly outrageous Scottish dialect as the innkeeper, Mrs. McGarrigle. While this is no small feat, Ms. Dworin is not alone; the entire ensemble executed their dialects and style with more brilliance that many adult productions I've seen. At times, cast members would literally switch hats along with dialects and sexes line by line, evoking a huge reaction from the audience. Finally, as Hannay's love interest Pamela, Lilja Macki played her role with class and a fine understanding of dry humor, bearing a remarkable resemblance to the fine ladies of The Golden Age of Cinema.
Directed by Beryl Knifton and impressively designed by McCallum's own gifted tech students, The 39 Steps proved once again, that McCallum is no ordinary high school program. One can be sure that when they attend a McCallum show, they're witnessing the beginning of many a performer's career.
THE 39 STEPS, performs at McCallum Fine Arts Academy at 5600 Sunshine Dr, Austin, TX 78756, now through May 18th. Performances are Thursday May 15th at 7pm, Friday May 16th at 7pm, Saturday May 17th at 7pm, and Sunday, May 18th at 2pm. Tickets are $6-$15. For tickets and information, please visit http://www.mactheatre.com/tickets.