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“The 39 Steps” show already wowing crowds at the MAC

Jackie Pawl, Features Editor

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The thrilling adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 movie and the original 1915 novel by John Buchan, “The 39 Steps” play at the Mac will entertain guests every week until Oct. 8, 2017. According to the Mac’s website, this adaptation “spins the classic murder mystery into a fast-paced, whodunit farce” and “[this] Tony Award-winning hit is packed with outrageous characters, spinning illusions and a death-defying finale.”

The play revolves around Richard Hannay (Bryan Burke), an ordinary Englishman leading a humdrum life. When his night ends in a woman’s murder in his apartment, he finds himself on the run from the authorities in a desperate effort to clear his name. Alongside him is Anabella Schmitt (Rebecca Cox), a beautiful German woman Hannay meets at the theater, who claims to have international information that can halt the march of the Nazis.

“[Hannay] wakes up one morning—he’s suffering a sort of general malaise about life; he’s unhappy; he doesn’t know what to do. He tries to solve it by going to the theater,” said Kurt Naebig, the show’s director, in the Mac’s behind-the-scenes Backstage Buzz interview.

“While he’s at the theater, he runs into this mysteriously charming, intriguing, beautiful woman with a German accent who begs him for help.”

The most unusual—and interesting—part of this play is that it is only performed by four actors, who adapt and change into every character.

“… Many years ago, a couple actors and a writer [came] together and decided ‘let’s do a play with four characters, in which they play every single character in the movie.’ Thirty-three scenes, many, many, many characters—it’s zany; it’s fun; it’s globetrotting. It’s just a really great night at the theater,” said Naebig. “Some theaters have said [the actors play] 150 [characters], some theaters say 50, I say—lots. Lots and lots.”

International travel and espionage isn’t the only thing “The 39 Steps” offers audiences, though.

“We’ve got romance. We’ve got gunplay, We’ve got fog. We’ve got dialects. We’ve got cross-dressing. We’ve got shadow-puppets . . . an evil genius and a happy ending,” said Naebig. “Everything’s working together to create this and . . . make a piece of art.”

“The 39 Steps” is currently running and will play Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. until Oct. 8 at the Playhouse Theater.

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College of DuPage's student newspaper | Est. 1967
“The 39 Steps” show already wowing crowds at the MAC