Monday, September 24, 2012

"The 39 Steps" Will Tickle Your Funny Bone-Now Playing At The James F. Dean Theater In Summerville

Scene changes are very challenging for any stage play and even more so when the characters are very mobile. It is a challenge not only for the set designer leading up to opening night but also the stage crew once the show begins. Through the progression of the play, it is vitally important to ensure a non-stop enjoyable viewing experience for the audience. Alfred Hitchcock's film, "The 39 Steps", takes you on an adventure where the main character, Richard Hannay, starts at a theater, ends up being chased by the police, jumping off a train, jumping through windows, riding in a vehicle, fleeing to a house, staying at an inn, and ending up at a theater after all is said and done. Now, adapt all of  that changing of geography to a stage production and a need for creativity is essential.

The Flowertown Players were successful at meeting this challenge in their comedic adaptation of "The 39 Steps" employing only two scene changes, a furnished room and a theater back stage. In addition, stage props, such as giant wooden letter blocks, were incorporated to address Richard Hannay's ability to get from one place to the other. Since the main actors would be playing multiple roles, different hats were utilized. Also, to maintain a non-stop comedic experience, the stage crew was integrated into play in various ways. An added musical feature I enjoyed was the use of a piano throughout the play reminiscent of the silent era of films. Victoria Malone, on the piano, did a superb job in keeping up the tempo of action and creating anticipation. At one point, she thew some Andy Griffith into the mix.
Mr. Memory played by Chad Estel

"The 39 Steps" was a major British film. In keeping with the integrity of the original production, the actors had to employ varying accents, mainly British. I was satisfied with their application, but if you were to ask a truly British native, they probably would have a problem trying to place the accent to a region and most likely would find it to be "just a bit muddled". Deacon Gerard gets a "thumbs up" for his multiple renditions of the varying tongues of Great Britain.

One of the more notable scenes of the play was where Richard(Patrick Hawkins) and Pamela(Joanna Cretella) are being taken away by two policemen in a car, played by Deacon Gerard and Chad Estel. They had the audience laughing with their sound effects and hijinks. Other comedic scenes of note involved the murder of Annabella Smith(Joanna Cretella), the train scene, some sheep, and the scene where Deacon and Chad change characters and hats in rapid fire.
Joanna Cretella, Deacon Gerard, Patrick Hawkins, and Chad Estel
Joseph Ruta, in his youth liked playing with wooden letter blocks, is the director of this comedic parody. Jason Olsen is the assistant director. The two of them did a fine job in putting it all together and creating a fun time not only for the cast and crew, but more importantly the audience. Last but not least, he stage crew played a vital part in the plays success. So, hats off to Alex Baily, Chris Berry, Olivia Bolt, Kayla Callahan, Liz Gouge, Darcy Herilihy, and Andriana Melendez. Olivia Bolt played other various parts as well as Darcy Herilihy, who also played Margaret.
Stage crew
The audience laughed throughout the play. There was a young man sitting next to me laughing and when you succeed at getting the younger generation to laugh at an older Hitchcock production, you have done well. It is absolutely worth taking an evening out of your busy schedule and drive to the James F. Dean Theatre in Summerville to find out the meaning of the 39 Steps. You will laugh too.
Purchase tickets.


Anonymous said...

I went and saw this play the first Saturday. My wife and I thought it was one of the best we had ever seen. W laughed all thru the play. It was funny, witty and yes, even suspenseful.

Victoria Malone said...

Thank you Rick, for the kind words! Doing the show was a BLAST! It was so much fun doing the music, and I'm glad that it added to enjoyment of the show. So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the great review!
Thanks again!
Victoria Malone