Stage West Community Playhouse officially kicks off their 2017-2018 theatre season this week with The 39 Steps, a funny and thrilling four person play. This season looks like it will be even more remarkable than last season, which is tough to beat! It includes Young Frankenstein; Baggage, 9 to 5: The Musical; The Diary of Anne Frank, Rock of Ages, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, and Calendar Girls.
The 39 Steps is a melodrama based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock adventure movie of the same name. The movie was based on a 1915 novel by John Buchannan. Mark Burdette plays Richard Hannay, the intrepid hero of the story. Hannay is an amiable innocent adventurer from Canada who visits London and falls into a bubbling pot of espionage. Our reluctant hero gets into trouble when he is falsely accused of committing a crime. He hides out in Scotland, unintentionally becoming a man on the run. He’s an innocent man trapped in a web of intrigue, but he sinks so low that he appears to be guilty. As enemy agents and police chase Hannay, the story turns into a Whodunit where we know whodunit but we don’t know why. Eventually, our persecuted hero rescues his good name and redeems himself, not without plenty of hijinks though.
Anthony Agnelli Jr is Clown #1 who plays multiple characters in the show. He says, “It has definitely been the best experience I’ve had in a straight play, and I feel honored to be working with such a small cast and, because I’m one of the people to carry the entire show for the first time, the whole process has helped me grow a lot more as an actor.”
Jeanene MacLean plays the three women that our Hitchcockian Hero gets romantically entangled with: Annabella Schmidt, Margaret, and Pamela Edwards. She says that The 39 steps was a “Very challenging show, full of tech and props not to mention physical comedy… The hardest part for me was learning a Scottish accent plus changing from the three different accents when your mouth is positioned for a certain accent.”
Stage West’s current Board President, Kathy Capelle, humbly takes on the fun yet challenging role of Clown #2, playing multiple characters like Agnelli. Another Stage West Veteran, Saul Leibner, does a great job of directing this exhilarating yet hilarious show. But he couldn’t have done it without the help of his assistant director, Betsy Glasson, dedicated stage manager, David Stenger, and meticulous stagehand, Dee Miller Curran.
The 39 Steps runs September 7th- 17th 2017 at Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd Spring Hill, FL. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students. Contact the box office at 352-683-5113 for more information.