Review: Alfred Hitchcock's THE 39 STEPS at The Premiere Playhouse

A Comedy Thriller

By: Mar. 04, 2022
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Review: Alfred Hitchcock's  THE 39 STEPS at The Premiere Playhouse

Don't let the reference of 20th century cinema's most prolific directors name deter you from attending a delightful production of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps at Premiere Playhouse. It's all laughs and broad, slapstick comedy in this parody of a thriller 1935 film. It's the classic "regular guy with somewhat boring life, accused of murder after meeting a beautiful and glamorous spy" story. The twists from thriller to comedy are the 150 characters portrayed by 4 actors. Therein lies the zany, at times mind-boggling spectacle of a parody on a spy story theme.

I'm familiar with the director, Matt Nesmith's work from his days in graduate school at SDSU in Brookings, but this piece is not at all in the wheelhouse of what I have seen of his work before. He comes to us as a guest director from USD in Vermillion and has crafted a beautifully paced comedy full of broad humor with impeccably staged antics. It started with his astute casting of the 4 actors in this production. They are all very skilled and up to the challenge of a piece that has some of them wrangling some 146 different characters with only the use of their body, voice, a few hats, coats, and props. It's a completely delightful ensemble of players with two veterans to Premiere productions and two actors making their debut with the group.

Tanner Sabol as Richard Hannay is stellar as the affable regular guy that not much ever happens to, turned fugitive from an unjust accusation of murder. His program credits mention musical talents and some other appearances in productions, and that he is new to the area. Sioux Falls certainly hit the jackpot with this new arrival. His dramatic and comedic delivery in this production is mesmerizing. Whether he is providing narration, or interacting with characters on stage he is charming and completely "present" in every moment. His escape in the opening moments of Act One are imprinted on my memory as the most hilarious bit I have seen on stage in years.

Mo Hurley, one of the actors portraying a plethora of personalities and achieving heights of hilarity I have never seen a single actor manage before, has inspired me to go through a "memory rolodex" of shows she would completely slay with her talent. She looks like she is having the time of her life on the stage and it transfers to the audience as pure joy.

Jake Cox, another new face at Premiere Playhouse astounds the audience with his physical agility on stage. He absolutely owns the characters he portrays and his diversity in voice and gesture is masterful. To note his other talents in the program, of costume and prop skills is enough to merit a second "jackpot" for Premiere Playhouse.

Marisa Moser moves beautifully on stage but was the hardest to understand on stage, mostly due, in my opinion, to speaking too rapidly.

Pace is important, but diction is "king" in a show where a variety of unfamiliar accents are falling on the ears of an audience that really wants you to succeed.

The sound and lighting cues are paramount to the success of this production and I felt Ashlee Boltjes and Malia Lukomski, both did a phenomenal design that brought the audience to all the fabulous places and comedic heights that the actors were leading the audience to.

It has been a long time since I attended a theatrical event that I felt warranted a second viewing "just for fun", but The 39 Steps did that for me.

I'll be back, and I am going to tell my friends that one of the shows from now until March 13th is a "must see" in the Premiere Playhouse season.


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