Newnan Theatre Company Tackles THE 39 STEPS
If you were to take a classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller, and throw in a gratuitous helping of Monty Python, and stir the mixture rapidly with quick-change costuming and decorate with a few thrills and chills, you would find yourself getting ready to see Newnan Theatre Company's production of The 39 Steps, written by Patrick Barlow, adapted from the 1935 Hitchcock movie. The show opens on Sept. 13th, and runs through September 23rd.
The concept for the show calls for the entirety of the cast of the 1935 thriller to be played by only four actors. One actor plays Richard Hannay, the hero. One actress plays the three women Hannay finds himself involved with, and two other actors play every other character in the show: heroes, villains, men, women, children, and even the random inanimate object now and then. This, of course, turns Hitchcock's serious spy story into a madcap comedy of mistaken identities, mishaps, and mayhem. The script is also full of references to Hitchcock's other works, including North By Northwest, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, and of course, Psycho.
Director Mike Funt, working with NTC and the Art Rez program of Newnan, jumped at the chance to come back to his hometown once more to direct this show. "When I was in town performing in NTC's Peter and the Starcatcher, I heard about their scheduling of The 39 Steps, and immediately approached them about coming back to town to direct. This production of the show is unique in that we are stripping away the technical production elements and presenting the story in a way that is a true celebration of the imagination of the audience."
Funt, who is a professional clown and circus historian, puts much emphasis on the clowning aspects of the show. "These four spectacularly talented clowns create the world of a giant mansion, the Scottish moors, the London Palladium, the English countryside and more, all with what can be found in Richard Hannay's London flat, which is under renovation," he says. "The world of the clown is playful, energetic, and fully engaged with the audience. Much like kids acting out their favorite movies and TV shows on the playground, this is a fast, fun romp of imagination."
NTC veteran Jeff Allen plays Hannay, the hero who finds himself entangled in the mystery. Jenny Schottstaedt plays Annabella Schmidt, the woman who brings Hannay into the plot, as well as Pamela and Margaret, the other two women Hannay finds himself drawn to. Lance Smith and Josh Hendricks hold the other two spaces in the cast. Hendricks, Smith, and Schottstaedt find themselves playing close to a hundred roles by the time the show is over.
Newnan Theatre Company's production of The 39 Steps opens on September 13th and runs through September 23rd. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by going to the NTC website, www.newnantheatre.org, or by calling the NTC offices at 770.683.6282. Show times are 8 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays and Sunday matinees at 3 pm.
PHOTO: Rehearsing for Newnan Theatre Company's production of The 39 Steps are (L-R): Jeff Allen, Josh Hendricks, and Lance Smith.