Community Players Climbs "The 39 Steps"

May 4, 2017

Just a handful of actors play multiple roles in Community Players' production of "The 39 Steps."
Credit Community Players

A classic thriller jumps from the screen to the stage in the latest production from Community Players.  Based on the film by Alfred Hitchcock, The 39 Steps takes a comedic twist in the footlights, but it still has Hitchcock's fingerprints all over it. 

A bored man meets a woman who claims to be a spy.  When the man agrees to help the woman, she's murdered, and the man is forced to flee, with both the police and a mysterious and dangerous spy organization hot on his trail.

That's the plot of the 1934 film, The 39 Steps, from Alfred Hitchcock -- and it remains the same for the stage play.  What's different about this production is the broadly comedic approach to the material. "It's the same dialog.  It just depends on how you say it," explained Bruce Parrish, who not only plays a role in the show, but acts as scenic designer and stagehand.  In fact, nearly everyone in the show plays multiple roles.  

"We have four main performers and three of them play many roles," said director Scott Myers. "In one scene in a train station, two actors play a porter and a newspaper boy and an old lady and police officers -- they just change with hats.  It's immediate and quickly done between characters. that almost had to be choreographed so that it came across the way we wanted it to. They do an excellent job!"

Scott Myers (left) and Bruce Parrish from Community Players.
Credit Laura Kennedy / WGLT

Although the stage play veers away from the film in tone, audiences can still find Hitchcock in the footlights -- there are references to his his throughout the play. "We have a few birds stationed around the set, you can hear someone reference the word Rebecca or you might hear Psycho music.  If you're a Hitchcock fan, you'll catch all kinds of things."

The 39 Steps runs at Community Players in Bloomington May 4 - 14.