Jan 192012
Authors: Marcus Moritz

Laughter and warm feelings probably aren’t typical reactions sparked by Alfred Hitchcock movies.

But that is what the OpenStage Theatre & Company is hoping to change with their rendition of “The 39 Steps,” which was originally a book written by John Buchan in 1915 and made into a film by Hitchcock in 1935.

“The 39 Steps” tells the tale of a man caught in the middle of something he wasn’t ready to handle. The audience follows the hero Richard Hannay, played by Matt Stalker, a CSU alumnus, as he gets charged for a murder he didn’t commit. He then proceeds to run around Scotland, fall in love with the main damsel and try to prove his innocence.

“Imagination runs wild as Hitchcock meets hilarious in this genius theatrical convention,” a commercial of the Open Stage Theatre’s performance states. “‘The 39 Steps’ is an engaging quick-fire whodunit that celebrates the magic of theater.”

“Whereas the original film is a very serious spy noir, the play turns that on its head by spoofing it while staying true to the nature of the story: a charming man who becomes engulfed in an international incident that threatens the defense of his country,” said Chris Lanphear, the stage manager.

The OpenStage Theatre performance, however, has some different elements thrown in to make the play funny. There are only four actors, three of which play several different characters throughout the show.

A chase on top of a moving train, airplanes pursuing the hero and the inevitable love story are all featured in the show. All of the action and the characters involved in the story are what makes the play unique, said Wendy Moore, the director of the show.

“Much of the spoof of this show is accomplished by having a cast of dozens of characters being played by just four actors,” Lanphear said.

“I think that the cleverness of the script and the total commitment by the actors is what helps make it a good show,” Moore said. “There are dozens of characters in the story, so there are many fast costume changes and crazy set changes as the story moves from London to the far reaches of Scotland.”

Stalker is the one actor who doesn’t change characters, because of his role as the main character.

“I go about acting differently than most people would,” he said regarding the origin of his inspiration. “I find out who the main character is by reading the script over and over again. Also, because I’m an English major, every word means something about who my character is.”

“The 39 Steps” is an entertaining show that will make you laugh, Stalker said.

“On our opening weekend, we had high school students through senior citizens in the audience,” Moore said. “They were all laughing right out loud.”

“(But) there is also humanity in the play,” Stalker said. “It makes you ask, ‘What if someone was actually going through this?’”

Collegian writer Marcus Moritz can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

What: “The 39 Steps” by the Open Stage Theatre & Company
When: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Feb. 4, and Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 at 2 p.m.
Where: The Lincoln Center: Magnolia Theatre
More info: http://openstage.com and http://lctix.com

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