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FST Presents THE 39 STEPS 12/8

Vintage Hitchcock meets Monty Python in Florida Studio Theatre's production of The 39 Steps, opening December 8 in the Gompertz Theatre. Jump aboard the high-speed chase across several European countries with over 150 characters (played by a talented cast of four!) in this dizzying delight. The 39 Steps is based on the classic spy novel by John Buchan, the 1935 Hitchcock thriller, and adapted by Patrick Barlow for the stage.

The 39 Steps follows the tale of the innocent, Hitchcockian leading man, Richard Hannay, a do-gooder accused of foul play. Hannay's life is turned upside down when a beautiful spy is murdered in his apartment. Soon, the spy ring is hot on his trail in a cross-country manhunt that climaxes in a death defying finale - including some good old fashioned romance and an onstage plane crash.

"The 39 Steps is the essential piece of theatre because it has what I like to call 'epic minimalism,'" Artistic Director Richard Hopkins said. "You take a few actors and you have them play 150 characters and visit 30 different locales, and do it with some chairs and trunks. Then it becomes a celebration of theatricality, a celebration of Alfred Hitchcock, and a celebration of the resilience of humanity."

The production will be directed by FST favorite, Eric Hissom. Mr. Hissom played one of the clowns on the national tour production of The 39 Steps, where he performed in 290 performances and in over 20 different cities. Mr. Hissom said he enjoys "the theatricality of the piece. It's the movie script, done on stage with a bit of a vaudevillian spin. Very clever, very fast, and very funny." Mr. Hissom was last seen as an actor in FST's production of Around the World in 80 Days.

Stiff upper-lipped Richard Hannay is played by New York Actor Michael Frederic, while New York actress Letitia Lange plays three beautiful women, including the always classic Hitchcock blonde. The two "clowns" will be played by returning FST actor Sheffield Chastain and FST newcomer, Curran Connor. Mr. Chastain reunites with former cast mate Mr. Hissom, also seen in FST's Around the World in 80 Days. The "clowns" have the entertaining role of transforming into 150 characters between the two of them - resulting in countless costume, prop, and scenery changes as the adventure takes off with great speed.

The production team consists of scenic and costume designer April Soroko, who worked on last summer's production of Beehive: The 60s Musical. Joseph Ushry will be the lighting designer and Britt Sandusky will be the sound engineer. Kelli Karen is the production stage manager, while additional stage crew is yet to be determined.

The 39 Steps opens at Florida Studio Theatre December 8 and runs through February 20 in the Gompertz Theatre. Single tickets are priced $19 to $34 and may be purchased by calling the Box Office at 941-366-9000 or by visiting the website at

The 39 Steps continues FST's Winter Mainstage Season after I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change opened the season on November 16. Next up will be David Mamet's provocative legal drama Race and Michael Hollinger's new play, Ghost-Writer.

ABOUT FLORIDA Studio Theatre

Known as Sarasota's Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company eventually settled down into a permanent home, acquiring the former Woman's Club building - now renamed the Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting Contemporary Theatre in its three theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Goldstein Cabaret and its newest space, the Gompertz Theatre.

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. Under Richard Hopkins, Artistic Director and CEO, FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.


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