Beginning Monday, March 12, the North Crawford Playhouse’s cast of 51 students will delight patrons with a Broadway smash hit, a screaming comic spoof on the old Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller, The 39 Steps. And we do mean funny!
The brilliance of this show is making a whole lot from very little. With absolute minimal set and costume, we flash through a blindingly fast-paced story, filled with spies, lovely ladies, stabbings, bridge jumping, train-top chases, …oh, oh… and a love story. Often things go deliberately wrong, actors drop character to give the audience a look. This is theatre that says, “Look, we know we’re in a theatre, and we know you’re there, so let’s just have a good time, shall we?”
The story opens in London, 1935, on the brink of WWII with our handsome young eligible bachelor, Richard Hannay (Ryan Lundberg), who is overwhelmed by loneliness. Seeking diversion, he goes to the theater to see the great “Mrs. Memory” (Sheri Schwert, Zoe Peters).
There, Hannay is accosted by a fabulously seductive woman, Annabella Schmitt (Sarah Paczok), who begs him to take her home with him. In his apartment, she unveils her true identity, as a foreign agent who has uncovered a devastating breech in national security. She fears that a spy ring called “the 39 Steps” (Casey Spencer, Jerrid McDaniel, Jared Smith) is closing in to murder her.
Just when Hannay thinks he is getting on with her, she stumbles in, stabbed in the back! With her last gasps, she tells Hannay that he is the only one that can save the country. He flees, disguised as the milkman (Jeanne Wollschlager). The police blame Hannay for the murder and paste his “WANTED” photo on the front page of every newspaper in the land.
For the rest of this rollicking ride, Hannay is on wild sprint for his life, evading spies, and prying underwear salesmen (Jacob Bransky, Dylan Ghormley), and the police (Cory Spencer, Johnny O’Dell). He leaps from trains, bridges and is shot at from airplanes and from arm’s length; he is chased through mud and sheep and marching bands.
Aided by the kindly wife (Amber Weihert), Hannay barely escapes a crazed Scottish farmer (Tyler Steyer) who tends “coos” and wants the reward money. He is attacked by witless inspectors (Riley Barlow, Elizabeth Paczok, Thamy Silva) At a small town political gatherings, Hannay is mistaken for the keynote speaker by two ancient politicians (Tyler Finnell, Sam Rudi).
Finally, he is captured by spies and handcuffed to a lovely lady, Pamela, (Rowan Williamson) who is absolutely certain he is a murderer. He escapes, dragging this impossible woman screaming behind him. Exhausted, he attempts to stay overnight, chained to the uncooperative Pamela, in a decrepit hotel trying not to be recognized by the even more decrepit hotel owners (Brandi Kochera, Rosa Thill). The plot thickens to a fine brawl, then to a lovely shootout, and everybody goes home happy. Truly a fabulous evening of entertainment! Don’t miss it.
Tickets are on sale now at the district office, $6 adults and $4 students. The show will play March 12, 13, and 15, 16 and 17. Call 608-735-4318 for reservations.
Rob Ghormley is the director of the North Crawford Playhouse.