Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “39 Steps” opens Oldcastle Theatre season in VT

The cast of 39 Steps at Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington, VT.

The cast of 39 Steps at Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington, VT.

39 Steps, a hilarious farce based on Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller of the same name, opens Oldcastle Theatre’s 45th season on Friday June 3, 2016. It runs until June 19.

Mixing a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, and adding a dash of Monty Python might be seem an unusual combination, and it is, but the result is a fast-paced, very funny whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre! This two time Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning treat is packed with nonstop laughs, over 150 zany characters, and a plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers and some good old-fashioned romance.

39 Steps took a while to come to the stage.

The 39 Steps is a melodrama adapted from the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock. The original concept and production of a four-actor version of the story was by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon. Patrick Barlow rewrote this adaptation in 2005.

The story is about a man with a boring life who meets a woman with a thick accent who says she’s a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered. Soon, a mysterious organization called “The 39 Steps” is hot on the man’s trail in a nationwide manhunt that climaxes in a death-defying finale. A riotous blend of virtuoso performances and wildly inventive stagecraft, 39 Steps amounts to an unforgettable evening of pure pleasure.

The cast are all Oldcastle veterans. The man whose boring life becomes suddenly highly exciting is played by Peter Langstaff. Last season Langstaff appeared in the musical Cabaret and the farce, Black Comedy with Oldcastle. He also was in the Oldcastle production of Grandma Moses: An American Primitive which the company brought to the Dayton Art Institute in Ohio. His co-star in Black Comedy, Jim Staudt returns to Oldcastle where he has also been seen in Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor and the premiere of Pay Date by John Morogiello. Oldcastle will present the premiere of Morogiello’s The Consul, The Tramp and America’s Sweetheart later in the season.

Patrick Ellison Shea, who along with Staudt plays numerous characters in 39 Steps, first appeared with Oldcastle more than 20 years ago. Most recently he appeared as one of America’s found fathers in American Wizard: Ben Franklin. He has also been seen in Oldcastle productions of The Fox on the Fairway, Around the World in 80 Days and A Tale of Two Cities.  Natalie Wilder, who plays all the women in the play, also appeared in The Fox on the Fairway, as well as Laughter on the 23rd Floor and Hard Times based on the Dickens novel.

Nathan Stith is directing for the first time with Oldcastle. He has made several appearances with the company in shows ranging from The Man Who Came to Dinner to Forever Plaid.  He teaches theatre at Trinty University in Texas.

Richard Howe, Oldcastle Associate Artistic Director has designed the set. The costumes are by Ursula McCarty, the lighting design by David V. Groupe, and the sound by Cory Wheat.

This wildly funny play is a great way to open a season according to Oldcaste’s Producing Artistic Director, Eric Peterson. “We have the perfect cast for this madcap entertainment. They are quick, clever, and able to change character and the literal drop of a hat and each has impeccable comic timing. This is a wonderful show to forget your troubles, simply sit back and enjoy the hilarity.” Peterson said. He added, “It is also a wonderful way to introduce young people to theatre. The speed and inventiveness of it will delight people of all ages.

For tickets and further information visit the Oldcastle website at: www.oldcastletheatre.org or call the theatre at 802-447-0564.

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