November 1, 2017 – For its second offering of the season, Centaur Theatre brings another blockbuster to the stage. The 39 Steps, by British actor, comedian and playwright, Patrick Barlow, (Absolutely Fabulous, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Shakespeare in Love) is an uproarious send-up of Alfred Hitchcock’s film noire adaptation of the spy thriller, written by UK novelist, John Buchan. Eda Holmes directs the rollicking ride, her first turn at bat as Centaur’s new Artistic and Executive Director.
Richard Hannay is wanted for a murder he didn’t commit. Hounded by police on foot, by rail and in the air, handcuffed to a young woman convinced of his guilt, he is the only hope to scuttle a spy ring’s dastardly plan to smuggle military secrets out of the country in pre-WWII England. The Molière, Olivier and Tony Award-winning spoof takes audiences from a London music hall to the moors of Scotland at breakneck speed by a trim four-member cast, three of whom play a plethora of people preventing Hannay in his perilous pursuit to clear his name and save the free world.
What began in 1995 as a modest production touring Northern England and Scotland, conceived and penned by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon, was reworked by Barlow in 2005 into an award-winning West End and Broadway hit that has subsequently been presented in countries around the world including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Dubai, Mexico, South Korea, Uruguay, and more. Barlow wrote, “One of the thrilling things about writing this was the challenge of putting an entire movie on stage, complete with film noir murders, shootings, train chases, plane crashes […] not to mention some of the most classic moments in the history of cinema. There is much opportunity for comedy and satire here, but it’s also a love story. A man and a woman […] hanging from bridges and clinging to trains and escaping from villains, discover the beating of their own true hearts.”
HANNAY: “Now look here, Annabella. You just breeze into my life from nowhere – you get me all – you know – involved…”
In the introduction of the play, Buchan’s granddaughter points out that her grandfather’s novel reminds us “that the veneer of civilization is very thin.” Director Eda Holmes has taken that on as a theme for the kind of delightful satire that the script encourages. “This play is an invitation to gather a group of actors with real comedic genius and open the gates to the playground. This cast is extremely talented and highly intelligent. They are willing to go fearlessly where no actor has gone before in search of the very best way to peel back the surface of the story to reveal the comedy underneath.”
HANNAY: “Vote for a good world! A better World! And above all vote for Mr. McCrocodile!”
Andrew Shaver (Trad, Haunted Hillbilly, Stones in his Pockets) is the dashing hero playing opposite Amelia Sargisson (The Watershed, The Madonna Painter) in an array of femmes fatales that further complicate Hannay’s life. Lucinda Davis (The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God) and Trent Pardy (Stratford Festival and Tales of Ovid), are the two ‘clowns’ comprising the other half of the quick-witted cast.
Set and costume designer, Michael Gianfrancesco, sets the action in an aging vaudeville theatre with simple period costumes enabling the versatile performers to morph swiftly from one character to another. Inspired by Hitchcock’s innovative cinematic techniques, Andrea Lundy designs the lighting and Keith Thomas uses an imaginative combination of sound effects, vintage music and classic film soundtracks to highlight the production’s comedic, suspenseful and romantic moments. No spy thriller would be complete without a scuffle or two with the bad guys and fight coach, Anita Nittolly, prepares the actors for those scenes while dialect coach, Rea Nolan looks after the litany of regional accents. Cristina Cugliandro is the Assistant Director with Merissa Tordjman as Stage Manager, assisted by Isabel Quintero Faia and apprentice Emily Whalley.
NEW Saturday Salons: Get to know Centaur’s new Artistic and Executive Director, Eda Holmes, in casual conversation about this production and all things Centaur Saturday November 18th and December 2nd, following the matinee performances.
Sunday Chat-up: November 19t at 12:30pm. A popular initiative that never fails to enrich the theatre going experience, presented in collaboration with the Montreal Gazette. Join Editor in Chief, Lucinda Chodan, in a lively discussion with former Montreal Gazette film critic, Dane Lanken, about Montreal’s golden movie palace era.
Both the Salons and the Chat-ups are held in the Ted T. Katz Family Trust Gallery and are open to the general public. Admission to these enlightening activities is FREE and complimentary refreshments are served, compliments of Bonaparte Restaurant.
Talk Backs: Following the evening performance on Thursday November 23rd and the matinée presentation on Sunday November 26th, audiences are invited to stay after the show for a lively Q&A with the cast and director.
Centaur Theatre Company
THE 39 STEPS
November 14 to December 10, 2017
Adapted by Patrick Barlow
Based on the Alfred Hitchcock film adaptation of the John Buchan novel
From the original concept by Simon Corble & Nobby Dimon
Directed by Eda Holmes
With Lucinda Davis, Trent Pardy, Amelia Sargisson and Andrew Shaver
Set & Costume Designer Michael Gianfrancesco
Lighting Designer Andrea Lundy | Composer and Sound Designer Keith Thomas
Fight Choreographer Anita Nittoly Assistant Director Cristina Cugliandro
Dialect Coach Rea Nolan | Stage Manager Merissa Tordjman
Assistant Stage Manager Isabel Quintero Faia | Apprentice Stage Manager Emily Whalley
Tickets ($28 – 51): www.centaurtheatre.com | 514-288-3161