Hitchcock Thriller Coming To Macey Stage

SOCORRO, N.M. October 24, 2012 – Cue Funeral March of a Marionette. A stage play based on a movie directed by the Master of Suspense himself is dum-da-da-da-da-dum-da-dum-ing to New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center on Halloween eve.


The Performing Arts Series hosts the theatrical version of Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps" on Tuesday, Oct. 30.



A theatrical version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps,” once the longest-running comedy/thriller on Broadway, will take center stage at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, in a Performing Arts Series event.

“The 39 Steps” is a play adapted from the 1935 film of the same name directed by Hitchcock; and, itself, loosely based on the 1915 novel by John Buchan. Patrick Barlow wrote the adaptation, based on an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon and featuring 150 distinct characters performed by a cast of four.

“Bringing a production of this caliber to town is a tremendous thrill,” Performing Arts Series Director Ronna Kalish said. “‘The 39 Steps’ has such a natural appeal for theater-lovers, from its historic roots in a black-and-white Hitchcock production, to its successful run on Broadway, and how fun to present it in Socorro the night before Halloween.”

“The 39 Steps” tells the story of an everyday man suddenly thrust into an international caper.

It starts out innocently enough: The man is at an event when, suddenly, gunshots are fired, and in the bedlam that follows, he meets up with a mysterious woman with a thick accent who tells him she’s a spy and talks him into taking her home with him.

Alas, she turns up murdered in the man’s home, and he flees. Soon after, a cryptic organization called “The 39 Steps” is hot on his trail in a nationwide manhunt.

The basic plot of the 1935 Hitchcock thriller is performed nearly verbatim onstage, but is played mostly for laughs. The script alludes to (and puns on the titles of) other Hitchcock films, including “Rear Window,” “Psycho” and “North by Northwest.”

One actor plays the hero, Richard Hannay, an actress plays the three women with whom he has romantic entanglements; and two other actors play every other character in the show: Heroes, villains, men, women, children and even the occasional inanimate object.

Such staging often requires lightning-fast changes; occasionally, the actors play multiple characters at once.

The play won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2007, and the What’s On Stage Award for Best Comedy 2007. The 2008 Roundabout Broadway production won the 2008 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience and Outstanding Lighting Design (Kevin Adams).

It won two Tony Awards on June 2008 for Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design, and was nominated for four other Tonys: Best Play, Best Direction of a Play (Maria Aitken), Best Scenic Design of a Play (Peter McKintosh) and Best Costume Design of a Play (Peter McKintosh).

Windwood Theatricals, established in 2000 by veteran agent Paul Bartz, is the play’s production company, and represents an eclectic blend of mainstream properties produced on Broadway, off-Broadway and in theaters worldwide.

The first version of the play premiered in June 2005 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, directed by Fiona Buffini. Maria Aitken directed the revised production in its London premiere at the Tricycle Theatre in August 2006 as “John Buchan’s The 39 Steps.”

The U.S. premiere by the Huntington Theater Company was September 19, 2007, at the Boston University Theatre. Billed as “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps,” the play opened on Broadway in a Roundabout Theatre production at the American Airlines Theatre, with previews beginning Jan. 4, 2008 and the official opening on Jan. 15, 2008.

The initial run concluded on March 29, 2008, before transferring to the Cort Theatre on April 29, 2008, and then to the Helen Hayes Theatre on Jan. 21, 2009.

The show had its final Broadway performance on Jan. 10, 2010 after 771 performances, “the longest-running Broadway play in seven years,” according to the writer for Playbill.com. “The 39 Steps” transferred to the off-Broadway venue New World Stages, reopening on March 25, 2010.

“‘The 39 Steps’ is an excellent opportunity for theater lovers to see a play that’s been on Broadway in the cozy confines of a small auditorium, and at a fraction of the cost,” Kalish said. “We invite patrons to dress in period costume, should they wish, in keeping with the setting of the play, which is England and Scotland in the 1930s, and also, because it’s the night before Halloween.”

Tech Club-Club Macey will cater to patrons age 21 and over from 5:30 p.m. on the night of the event and throughout intermission. In keeping with the season, the clubs will serve “Mystery Menu” hors d’oeuvres. Cover charge is $5 for non-members.

Sponsors for “The 39 Steps” are New Mexico Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Mexico Tech Student Association, El Defensor Chieftain, M Mountain Coffee and EconoLodge of Socorro.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for senior citizens 65 and over, and $10 for youths 17 and under, and are available at the N.M. Tech Cashier’s Office (second floor of Fidel Center), Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, Burrito Tyme Drive-up or at the door.

– NMT –