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Oklahoma State University

OSU Theatre stages madcap Hitchcock classic

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sam Stockard as Richard Hannay and Rebecca Ralstin as Pamela star in OSU Theatre’s production of “The 39 Steps”

A comedic spoof of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 classic “The 39 Steps” should please Hitchcock fans and comedy lovers alike as OSU Theatre’s third main stage production set for March 5-8 at the Viva Locke Theatre in the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts.  Tickets are on sale now.

The play faithfully follows every scene of the movie with the addition of comedic twists. All of the movie’s dozens of roles are played by four actors in a sequence of quick-changes, sight gags, and hilarity. If you know your Hitchcock, you will recognize allusions to many of his most popular films. The production promises entertainment and laughs for the entire family, but you don’t have to see the movie to enjoy it! 

The adaptation was written by Patrick Barlow and premiered in England in 2005, and has since been produced around the world. Richard Hannay, played by Sam Stockard, is framed for the murder of the beautiful and mysterious Annabella Smith, played by Rebecca Ralstin, while he tries to expose a notorious German spy ring. He gets tangled up with the reluctant Pamela, also played by Ralstin, who becomes his unwilling accomplice. Garrett Pezant and Courtney Farney play every other role in rapid sequence, including policemen, farmers, spies, and vaudeville performers.

Professor of Performance Lloyd Caldwell, who was involved in the London production of the play, is glad to be directing the action this time. “I’ve loved this play for a few years now and I am thrilled with the opportunity to stage it in Stillwater. For our production, we do not lose sight of the fact that this play is based on a movie, so we are staging the filmmaking aspect. While our four actors are center stage, we have crewmembers doing live sound effects on one side of the stage, and stagehands—known as ‘grips’ in the film industry—moving lots of scenery and getting caught up in the action. The design of the production also places it in the period the movie was made. The actors have learned a lot about physical comedy, and they’re doing a tremendous job.

Collaborating with Caldwell in the creation of the production are many on the Theatre faculty: Heidi Hoffer has designed the set and the lights, Lee Brasuell the sound design, and Rana Webber, with undergraduate Jacob Brockunier, designed the costumes. Senior theatre major Anne Uhlman has taken a significant role as assistant director. Joining the four actors doing live sound, or “foley” are Jessica Smoot, Emilee Hart, and Killian Phelps. Grips are Kelsey Crider, Peyton Meacham, and Travis Dean Gunterman. 

The performances run Thursday, March 5, through Saturday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 8, at 2:30 p.m. All performances are in the Viva Locke Theatre of the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts. Box Office information and links to on-line credit card purchases may be found on the departmental website: http://theatre.okstate.edu or by calling (405) 744-6094.

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