Review: THE 39 STEPS at Hale Centre Theatre

Murder, mayhem, hilarity, and a little romance make up some of The 39 Steps

By: Nov. 10, 2020
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Review: THE 39 STEPS at Hale Centre Theatre

BWW Review: The 39 Steps

It has been 8 months since I last sat in the audience for a live theater production. It felt wonderful and familiar to be sitting with other patrons. The audience was more spread out, and everyone was in a mask, but I appreciated the precautions so I could witness this fantastic production. The 39 Steps is a fast-paced comedy performed by a stellar cast. I saw the Gold cast, but I'm certain the Blue cast is just as delightful.

Based on the film by Alfred Hitchcock, the story follows Richard Hannay, a bored Londoner looking for excitement. He attends a West End show and meets a dark stranger who upends his humdrum life. There is murder, intrigue, excitement, and twists and turns in every scene. The play is full of references to Hitchcock's prolific works, hilarious physical comedy, inventive costumes, and impressive character shifts. The show uses props in an unexpected and imaginative way that adds to the laughter. How the cast keeps it straight is an achievement in and of itself.

As Richard Hannay, Rob Stuart leads the cast skillfully through the insanity. His British accent is splendid and he pulls off the swagger that is required of the character. Stuart embraces the physical demands of the role and has excellent comedic timing. Because the cast is small, the chemistry of the group is imperative to the success of the play. It is apparent that the cast enjoys performing together and they didn't miss a beat.

Alaina Beauloye plays Annabella, Margaret, and Pamela. Each character is unique and audience members were shocked to learn that Alaina had played all the female characters. Beauloye has created different accents for each character, which she handles with ease. She also manages the physical requirements of the characters with vigor. Her dexterity is constantly on display and she makes it look easy. I'm certain it is not, but that is the mark of a great actor.

Clown 1 is responsible for several characters, and is played by David Michael Paul. It was so fun to watch David present his different characters, with different accents, and unique physical attributes. Paul also delivers an extensive monologue that had the audience rapt. Paul has clearly worked hard and the audience benefits as a result.

Clown 2 also presents several characters and is expertly played by Jere Van Patten. His seamless transition from one character to another is no small feat. His delivery is second to none and there were several times I was doubled over with laughter. Van Patten clearly understands comedy and how to entertain the audience. There was not one moment he was on stage that the audience wasn't in the palm of his hand. Pay close attention to the both the clowns because you do not want to miss the personal touches they add to the play.

There is a Foley Artist on stage for the entirety of the show. Kyle Steven Webb is an important member of the cast and the show wouldn't be the same without his character. The play keeps Webb very busy, and he definitely contributes to the insanity happening on stage. The show has a relentless energy and I am so impressed by what this group has put together.

Lighting also plays an important role. Designed by Tim Dietlein, the lighting creates the perfect environment for shenanigans and mystery. Because the story moves so fast, the lighting serves to direct the attention of the audience to help them stay on top of the action.

I want to be sure to give a shout out to the backstage and production crew for this play. There are a lot of moving parts and the crew keeps it moving seamlessly. With over 150 characters, that is a lot of costumes, wigs, props, hats, quick changes, and sound cues. Brian Daily is the Set Technical Director/Carpenter; McKenna Carpenter is the Head Prop and Paint Director; Cambrian James provides wigs and makeup and is a Backstage Dresser; Joshua Lindblom is the Audio Engineer; Tia Hawkes is the Costume Designer; Kyle Webb also provided Carpenter services; Laura Hawkes is a Scenic Painter and assisted with props; Justin Peterson is the Stage Manager and 1st Assistant Sound Designer; Jamie Fleischer is a Backstage Dresser, and the Backstage Managers are Brian Daily and Kate Hansen (Blue Cast) and Ariana Lucius and Kaelyn Kowalczyk-Schnittker (Gold Cast). A special thanks also to the house crew who keeps the theater sanitized and ensures safe distances are maintained.

Directed by Dave Dietlein, The 39 Steps is, quite simply, joyful. It felt good to laugh and to be part of an audience. If you have the chance to see this show, do not miss it. The theater is taking precautions to keep people safe and I wish I could see the show again to catch all the things I missed. The 39 Steps runs through November 21 at the Hale Centre Theatre. Tickets can be purchased here.

Photo Credit: Nick Woodward Shaw


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