Feb. 21-25, Theatre UAB presents “The 39 Steps”

This farcical stage comedy is an entertaining parody of the Alfred Hitchcock film, set with notorious characters, 1930s music and costumes, intrigue, and physical slapstick in a host of delightful classic spy story situations.

The 39 Steps Digital 720x1280Mix a thrilling Alfred Hitchcock spy masterpiece with Monty Python-style comedy and get “The 39 Steps,” a fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theater.

Theatre UAB will present “The 39 Steps” at UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21-24, and 2 p.m. Feb. 25. Tickets are $15; $10 for students, UAB employees and senior citizens. Purchase tickets at AlysStephens.org or call 205-975-2787.

This farcical stage comedy is an entertaining parody of the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name that appeared in 1935, says Director Dennis McLernon.

Hitchcock was attracted to this plot time and time again, he says: Innocent bystander drawn into intrigue through mistaken identity. This lone individual is then pitted against a powerful, international spy ring, in this case known as “The 39 Steps,” with deadly plot twists and continual crises in the ever-changing plot.

But the tension is pushed over the top in this stage adaptation, the director says, as comic focus is placed on the corny acting styles, situations and stereotypical characters that appear in the original film. Adding to the chaos: The entire cast of characters is played by only four actors, who are constantly changing costumes and adopting comedic character voices and accents for each new role.

“It’s set with notorious characters, 1930s music and costumes, intrigue, physical slapstick, and literal backstabbing in a host of delightful classic spy story situations,” McLernon said. “There are hidden references like little Easter eggs to other Hitchcock films throughout the script. It’s a breathless comedic journey through a nostalgic era, and a perfect diversion for a cold winter night.”

 The original 1915 spy novel by John Buchan has been adapted for the screen three times. The concept to turn it into a four-person stage adaptation was originated by Nobby Dimon and Simon Corble in the mid-’90s. Patrick Barlow formalized the concept into a published script in 2005, and it has been a popular stage comedy ever since.

Theatre UAB is the performance company of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theatre at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  

This spring Theatre UAB will present “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” in UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, and for the season finale, Theatre UAB will join with Red Mountain Theatre to present the iconic feel-good musical comedy “Sister Act” in April 2024. These two educational powerhouses will collaborate to bring professional theater resources together with the next generation of musical theater talent for one incredible production. 

Visit the UAB Department of Theatre online at uab.edu/cas/theatre, or call the department at 205-934-3236.

The cast of “The 39 Steps” is Brandon Marquez of New Orleans, Louisiana, as Richard Hannay; Morgan DeFelice of Nashville, Tennessee, as Annabella/Pamela/Margaret; Norah Trench of Birmingham, Alabama, as Clown No. 1; and Isabelle Johnson of Pensacola, Florida, as Clown No. 2. Stage management is by Juliette Sosa Valle of Granger, Iowa, with assistant stage managers Trinity Anderson of Birmingham, Alabama, and Autumn Pentecost of Gadsden, Alabama.