‘The 39 Steps’ showcases student talent in comedic mystery game


Jhe pushed the scene into Henry Heymann Theater in the basement of the Foster Memorial has seating on the three sides that line it, providing intimate interactions for audiences and performers. The cast of “The 39 Steps” clambers over the audience, asks them questions and runs frantically around the small theater.

Pitt Stadiums presents “The 39 Steps,” a comedy-drama that follows the story of thick-accented Richard Hannay, whose social life is turned upside down when he meets a mysterious woman at the theater. The play is a parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film “The 39 Steps”. The show is a student-led production with theater arts teachers acting as mentors.

When Hannay brings this mysterious woman home, she pretends she’s a spy with valuable information. Shortly after they meet, the woman is found murdered at Hannay’s home. Frightened, Hannay, now a man on the run, embarks on a journey to uncover the evil plots of the mysterious organization calledThe 39 steps” and the identity of the murderer of this woman.

The show kicked off last Friday and performances have been running throughout this weekend and will continue Tuesday through Saturday with performances starting at 8pm, except for a Sunday matinee..

Rachel Nolen, a senior theater arts and political science graduate and stage manager, assisted with stage management with Pitt Stages throughout her time at Pitt.

Nolen said casting was on time and production pieces were assembled. During the show, Nolen directs the soundboard and lights from his position in the light booth. Nolen said the show had a lot of craziness and excitement.

“[‘The 39 Steps’] is a hilarious spin on traditional Hollywood spy stories. It takes you through an unusual day in the life of Richard Hannay where he gets involved,” Nolen said. “Involved in uncovering the secrets behind the 39 steps and saving the country. Literally. It’s a lot of madness. It’s a lot of excitement.

Mikki Monfalcone, senior theater and communications arts specialist and production manager, said the show was a comedic piece.

“It’s a farce, which pokes fun at old Hollywood and Alfred Hitchcock a lot using Monty Python-style humor,” Monfalcone said.

Comprised of just six cast members, each actor plays multiple roles in Hannay’s journey. These actors use hats and several costumes to create the illusion that Hannay meets several different people on his journey.

While the original playwright wrote the production with four actors, Monfalcone said she split the roles to give each actor more creative freedom.

“I split these two actors into four actors to lighten the weight of each person in a creative way… It’s kind of a marathon for the actors because a lot of them play so many roles,” Monfalcone said. “It’s just a wonder to watch.”

Monfalcone said she applied to be a student director last year, looking for plays to possibly work on, when she came across “The 39 Steps.” She said the series suited her directing style due to the intimate interactions of each actor.

Monfalcone said the show matched her style, including the way she directed the actors.

“I would give minor direction of where I wanted it all to start and where I wanted it all to end. I would let the actors figure out how they get from point A to point B, and then they would let go of their instincts,” Monfalcone said. “When things worked I encouraged them to follow their instincts and when things didn’t work we would decide together what wasn’t working and then find a new way to make it work.”

Monfalcone said the comedic elements of the series provide “something for everyone”.

“If you’re a fan of comedy in any style, I highly recommend you come see it,” Monfalcone said. “There is something for everyone in this show.”

Nolen said the show was special to her because of the people she worked with, including her assistant managers and the actors.

“My favorite thing are the people I’ve worked with. They’ve all been so wonderful,” Nolen said. “Everyone I worked with was so helpful and supportive of each other and I think it made the whole process so much easier to follow.”

Nolen said producing is also a great way to introduce someone to acting.

“It’s a big laugh. It’s not a boring show in any sense of the word,” Nolen said. “If you’re new to theater I think this is a great introduction due to its excitement and action.”

Christina Vlachos, a major in psychology and theater arts with a minor in music, attended the show to support her friend who worked on the production. She said the production was funny.

“I thought it was hilarious and so well done. There didn’t seem to be a moment where I wasn’t laughing,” Vlachos said. pass at any time.”

Vlachos added that she admires how hard the cast worked on the show.

“I have to say, this little cast really put their hearts into this show. Amazing work from the actors as well as the technology,” Vlachos said. “The lighting and sound were so well thought out and really added a lot to the whole show.”


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