39 Steps is a ‘4Cast’ of Fun
by Cate Murway

Got a ticket on ya? Don't miss a single step......
Rumor has it that “The 39 Steps”, the hilarious whodunit production that opened the Bristol Riverside Theatre's season on September 30th, with performances running Tuesday through Sunday, October 26th, is a mix of a Hitchcock masterpiece, a juicy spy novel and a dash of Monty Python.

Ms. Deborah Fleischman
Bristol Riverside Theatre
120 Radcliffe Street
Bristol, PA  19007

Dear Ms. Fleischman,
I was cordially invited by you to the Opening Night and Post-Show Reception following the performance of the BRT’s Tony Award-winning comedy “The 39 Steps” on Thursday, October 2nd, 2014. Thank you for thinking of me!
It was marked: By invitation only.  Not transferable.  Space is limited.  Tickets and reception complimentary.
Wow! But I thought I only liked musicals and romance, and not necessarily in that order.

So first, I did some research.
The 39 Steps is a compelling dramatic piece adapted from the 1915 novel by The Right Honorable, the Lord Tweedsmuir John Buchan [1875- 1940], a Scottish novelist and historian. This spy-thriller was the 1st Baron’s most famous work, set just prior to World War I, about a man in London who tries to help a counter-espionage agent prevent a clandestine organization of spies called “The 39 Steps” from stealing top secret information.

The cast, of only four, portray all of the nearly 150 exaggerated, zany characters. These most hilarious and exciting whodunit events were loosely based in the most acclaimed film version by the English director and producer, Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock [1899-1980] in 1935. One actor plays the hero, Major-General Sir Richard Hannay, the target of a nationwide manhunt; an actress, or perhaps an actor, plays the three women with whom Hannay is romantically entangled; and the two other actors portray every other character necessary in the show. That includes a hero, a villain, a man, a woman, a child or even an occasional inanimate object, demanding lightning fast quick-changes for them to play sometimes even multiple characters at once. The part of the dashingly handsome Hannay is the only one where the actor does not double in another role.

This “serious” spy story, starting in the London Palladium is essentially a spoof, nonsense, pure tomfoolery. The script often offers allusions to (as well as innuendos and puns on the titles of) other Alfred Hitchcock films, including ‘Strangers on a Train’, ‘Rear Window’, ‘Psycho’, ‘Vertigo’ and ‘North by Northwest’, It also includes a rousing impromptu campaign speech by Hannay, who knows virtually nothing about the candidate he is introducing.

An on-stage plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers and some good old-fashioned romance was promised. “Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have The 39 Steps!”
Ok, I was going. I took the first step out the door for the evening of “The 39 Steps”.
To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure of what to expect from this production. But any doubts were rapidly dispelled within the first 2 minutes of the play. I could not have enjoyed it more.
The light-hearted, imaginative 100+-minute comedy of vintage spy-jinx came alive at the BRT!
It was excellent, full of surprising quick-fire gags, innovation and unbelievably extreme energy. The talent, clever improvisation and human flexibility was incredible….what a wacky show and the superlative powers of recall of Mr. Memory was a hoot!
The simply splendid bygone era of steam trains, pipe smoking, pearls, hats and whisky and soda was entrancing and brought about the 1930’s glamour matching the original naivety of its effect techniques used for the cinema.

In its entirety, the play was a truly dizzy theatrical game played with intelligent wit and versatility, oozing quintessential British humor. Loved the stage effects, it was “just the ticket”! I haven't laughed that much in a long time. Bravo…. You are correct. Hitchcock does meet hilarious!
The superb cast of four, obviously enjoying themselves and so real in their characters and shockingly sharp in their displays of comedic timing, pulled out all the stops and the entire audience was completely dazzled, engaged with and absorbed by the brilliant slapstick sitcom.
The intimate theatre allowed the audience to share in the slickly- executed, action - packed performances, sweeping everyone along on a truly magnificent rip-roaring yarn of a tale.
The inconceivable acting performances from all the cast, magnificent stagecraft and ingenious directing made the powerful BRT production of “The 39 Steps” a purely amazing adaptation of a classic.

With sincere gratitude,
Cate Murway

Thanks to the Grundy Foundation and an investment of over one million dollars that transformed the once dilapidate building into a state-of-the-art theater. The Bristol Riverside Theatre opened its doors in September 1987 and Bucks County's first Equity Regional Theatre was born as the Bristol Riverside Theatre on 120 Radcliffe Street.
Call, reserve your ticket for the best seat in the house [they’re all perfect, only 30 feet from the stage!] in the inviting 300-seat theater equipped with extraordinary lighting and sound technology. The BRT is a professional theatre with professional actors and professional directors.
With every production, the audience becomes theirs, as the superlatively talented actors transcend the moment and cleverly guide you someplace else within the playwright's imagination and to the world the Bristol Riverside Theatre has so artfully created.
All shows are family friendly, chosen to embrace the largest audience of people.
The passion of the performers is potent in every presentation and never fails to impress!

Take care of your holiday shopping now by purchasing Bristol Riverside Theatre tickets for your friends, family and colleagues. Beat the inevitable December rush and lock in the best seats available today. While you're at it, pick up a couple for yourself for one of their many fabulous Holiday shows. Holiday gift cards are available, too!
Bristol Riverside Theatre
Seriously Entertaining Theatre
120 Radcliffe Street
Bristol, PA 19007
Call 215-785-0100, or check the website: www.brtstage.org.

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