BWW Interviews: THE 39 STEPS a Nice Sendoff for Otterbein Graduates

Sam Ray's final production with Otterbein University turned out to be like a final exam for the versatile actor.

Ray plays Richard Hannay in a Christina Kirk directed production of THE 39 STEPS, which is equal parts film noir, farce and romantic comedy. The show opens 7:30 p.m. June 26 at Cowan Hall's Fritsche Theatre (30 S. Grove St. in Westerville).

"It's incredibly original," says Ray, who plans on staying around Columbus and Cincinnati before possibly traveling to the entertainment meccas of Los Angeles and New York. "It's not something you see all the time on stage.

"A lot of times we are trying to portray real life events as closely as we can to the events that are going on in people's lives. But with this particular show, things are a little bit more fantastic."

The play was adapted by Patrick Barlow from a 1915 novel by John Buchan and a 1935 movie by Alfred Hitchcock. It captured two Tonys and a Drama Desk award in 2007-08.

Hannay is a homebody whose decision to attend a play in London's West End puts him in the middle of a conspiracy where information that is vital to the English air defense is going to be leaked out of the country if he doesn't stop it.

Along the way, Hannay falls in love with three different women.

Emily Vanni played Gloria, one of the three stewardesses pursued by Ray in Otterbein's BOEING, BOEING last summer. Vanni plays all three of the love interests in THE 39 STEPS.

"It's cool because each one of these characters reflects one kind of style of theatre," says Vanni, a senior who plays Annabella Schmidt, Pamela and Margaret. "Annabella is a German secret agent who represents the film noir side. Margaret is an innocent Scottish girl who is our farce and Pamela is a very sophisticated woman who is the romantic comedy."

Vanni says her challenges are nothing compared to those of the "clowns," played by Sean Murphy and Anthony Cason. Murphy and Cason play nearly everyone else in the 150-character play.

The show requires the actors to think quickly on their feet as props like chairs and benches are transformed into cars and planes and trains almost as quickly as the actors switch characters.

"You go on this crazy journey with tons of different characters," Ray says. "It's really exciting theater to watch."

"There are a lot of challenges with this show," Vanni says. "You have to go with the obstacles and embrace them. You just have to fun with the crazy, farcical spirit of the show."

THE 39 STEPS opens 7:30 p.m. June 26 at Cowan Hall's Fritsche Theatre (30 S. Grove St. in Westerville) and will hold performances at 8 p.m. June 27 and June 28 and July 3, 5 and 10-12. Additionally there will be two 2 p.m. matinees on June 27 and June 29.

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From This Author Paul Batterson

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