it looks like a terrible idea on paper

39_steps1Just imagine pitching the following idea to a Broadway producer: We’re going to take an early Alfred Hitchcock espionage film from 1935 and turn it into a stage comedy. The cast will consist of just four people and three of them will have to play over 100 roles. Along the way we’re going to reference every Hitchcock movie made.

Well, against all logic, it works beautifully. We saw The 39 Steps on Broadway.

This was playing in London when I was there a year ago and I didn’t get a chance to see it then but, miraculously, the same cast that was in the London show is intact here in New York. Generally, they don’t bother to import a show unless they’re sure it’s going to succeed, so I had an inclination that it was going to be worthwhile. The tsunami of good reviews helped.

It’s a funny show but also a bit of an acting tour de force. Change a hat, change a character. I see a lot of small, downtown black box theater and I can assure you that not every actor can pull this sort of thing off. Some of them have a hard enough time getting set inside ONE character!

* * *

This is probably my last show of the year. When I review the list of plays I’ve seen in 2008, it looks like it was a pretty satisfying year for theater. 28 shows. Not bad. The counter resets to 0. When I get tired of the long, late train ride home to New Jersey I’ll stop going but until then I’m going to take advantage of living out here.

4 thoughts on “it looks like a terrible idea on paper

  1. I enjoy reading these posts and hearing/seeing life in NYC. Even with my visits there over a decade old now, I still recall them fondly. I don’t think I could live in a big city anymore – maybe not even endure a very long visit, but there are fascinating places.

  2. wow, that sounds great. never got bitten by the theatre bug though I performed in a zillion plays as a kid. But glad somebody is keeping the lights burning on broadway!

  3. Annie: I had a grand scheme to move back into the city after sending the daughters off to college. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that living in a house might have ruined me for apartment life. How am I going to size down my living space? Tim: You were bitten by something much more rewarding: the writing bug.

  4. i dabble on stage – consider myself more of a hack ‘performer’ than a hack ‘actor’. but seeing the folks who can conjure multiple characters, in the same show? jaw-dropping!i’d love this one…

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