Georgetown, KY – You have this one weekend (Oct. 26-28) left to see a gifted quartet of Georgetown College Maskrafters in “The 39 Steps,” and playing nearly 140 characters! First, check out this trailer that director Ed Smith put together.
Curtain time is 8 p.m. for the three remaining performances in the Ruth Pearce Wilson Lab Theatre. (Adult tickets are $7 and students $5. Tickets are still available in the College bookstore; reserve by calling 502-863-8134. Tickets are also on sale for a George McGee original musical, “Wonderboy,” which has been just scheduled for late November. See BELOW!)
This Hitchcock-based play is a comedy, romance-thriller filled with spies, chase scenes and lots of action. “It’s a mash-up of ‘Clue’ meets James Bond meets ‘Monty Python,’” Dr. Smith said.
And, the cast is a mash-up of majors, if you will. “One cool thing about the show is that it’s a reflection of the liberal arts in action,” Dr. Smith said. Sure enough: Female lead Meredith Cave is a senior Political Science and Theatre & Film double major; male lead Ethan Smith is a senior Psychology and Philosophy double major; Shay McCleavy is a junior Musical Theatre area major; and Jennifer Jordan is a Math major.
The lead character is Englishman Richard Hanay, played by Cynthiana native Ethan Smith, who leads a boring life until he is mistakenly accused of a crime. He works to clear his name, save his country and solve the mystery of the “39 Steps.” Along the way, he meets three women, all played by Meredith Cave and well over a hundred more characters – collectively played by Jennifer Jordan and Shay McCleavy.
Characters range from underwear salesmen to matronly women, with variations of English, Cockney and Scottish accents. Jordan and McCleavy are switching to a different character constantly, which is challenging for any actor.
“There is one scene where we play five characters in the same scene at the same time,” said McCleavy, who’s from Brandenburg. Besides the ever-changing costumes and roles, the accents have been an additional challenge.
“It’s hard to do a scene when someone is using a different accent than you,” Cave said. “It’s hard to not switch over to their accent.”
Accents aren’t the only thing being crossed in this play – there will be a great deal of gender-bending as well. Cincinnati native Jordan plays several manly characters and McCleavy plays numerous female roles, including the matronly Mrs. Higgins.
“I’ve never won a dress on stage, but if it gets a laugh, then I’m all for it,” McCleavy said.
“39 Steps” began with a book published by John Buchan in 1915. The book was an adventure novel, and one of the first to include spies. To this day, it has never gone out of print. Alfred Hitchcock adapted the story for film in 1935, which was one of his first big movies before coming to America. In 2005 a new form of “39 Steps” was created when a play was written inspired by Hitchcock’s film. It was written for four actors, and has quite a few references to past Hitchcock works.
Cave, a native of Nicholasville (but a graduate of Lexington Christian Academy), admits that it is “one of the hardest shows [she has] ever done.”
And director Smith agrees: “I tell my actors, ‘If you think this is really hard, then you’re not imagining it.’”
“39 Steps” is a physically and mentally demanding show, with high energy scenes like train chases, plane crashes and the lead characters being chased through the Scottish highlands – while handcuffed together. “I’m hoping it will be like nothing the audience has ever seen,” Smith said.
NOW mark your calendar for “Wonderboy,” an original 1950s Sci-Fi Rock Musical Comedy (for the whole family) by Director George McGee. 7:30 p.m., Nov. 30; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Dec. 1 and 2. in the College’s Wilson Lab Theatre. Tickets for this “short and hilarious show” are $5 for Adults, $3 for Students. (For tickets call the College bookstore, 502-863-8134; or for Larger Group Sales, call 502-863-8162.)