‘The 39 Steps’: like Hitchcock, but funny


An insider’s look at the theater process provides a twist to a classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller in the Hale Center Theater’s production of “The 39 Steps.”

The Hale Center  Theatre Orem tells of  hero Richard Hannay’s attempts to defend himself in a cross-country chase away from and in pursuit of a strange spy organization. Along the way, four cast members will play more than 40 characters, including Pamela, admirable in looks and spirit, who finds herself conflicted as she tries to help the man she also believes is a murderer.

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An insider’s look at the theater process provides a twist to a classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller in the Hale Center Theater’s production of “The 39 Steps.”

Based on Alfred Hitchcock’s film of the same name, the HCTO maintains the same suspenseful plot of the movie, while adding a comedic theme.

Noah Veloz, a sophomore from Bakersfield, Calif., and a Hitchcock admirer, thinks this humorous approach is one unique way to remake a classic film.

“I think it will be clever and add a lot to it,” he said. “Trying to re-do Hitchcock would be difficult, but I think a spin on it could be a success.”

Anne Swenson, managing director at HCTO, agrees audiences will enjoy the upbeat take on the film.

“They should be pleased because it’s really funny,” Swenson said. “The plot is still the same serious story line, but the way it’s told really lightens and parodies the story.”

One of the ways the play takes this lighthearted approach is by exposing the audience to the ins and outs of the show, including scene and character changes for all to see.

“Part of the show is exposing bare bones theater,” said Kelly Hennessey, who plays Pamela and two other women. “The audience gets to see the backstage onstage … it includes them in the madness that is theater.”

Christopher Clark, director of the play, shared some thoughts on revealing some of the hidden elements of drama in the Director’s Note portion of the program.

“As a director I like exposing the wheels and gears of theatre; sometimes how something is accomplished on stage is more interesting to me than why,” he said in the note.

While the show only features four cast members, around 40 characters are showcased in the production thanks to scene and costume changes, and of course, the skill of the actors.

“It’s kind of like the actor’s dream challenge,” Hennessey said about portraying several different characters in one performance. “It’s very thrilling and exciting.”

Additionally, Swenson shared how a performer can switch characters through something as simple as a posture change or trade of a hat.

“The audience is quite delighted,” Swenson said. “There are small theatrical conventions used and the audience is really tickled to see the story be told.”

The size and layout of the theater also allow a one-of-a-kind experience. According to Swenson, the farthest seats are only seven rows back, permitting the audience to be constantly engaged in the drama and not miss anything. Swenson wishes her experience of “The 39 Steps” had been this intimate at the Shakespeare Festival.

“I had fabulous seats, but they were so far,” she said. “It’s such a different experience to see the fine nuances of the actors.”

This spin on a classic seems to promise suspense, laughter and engaging drama.

Shows run Monday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. until Feb. 11, 3 p.m. matinees are available Jan. 14, 21, 28 and Feb. 4 and 11. Tickets cost $16-$20 each ($4 less for children per ticket). To get tickets visit the Hale Center Theater Orem Box Office, call 801-226-8600 or visit HaleTheater.org.

The Hale Center Theater Orem is located at 225 W. 400 North, Orem.

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