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Hitchcock's kitschy murder mystery makes
triumphant translation to the stage

"The 39 Steps"
Bank of America Theatre
Chicago, IL
May 20, 2010
The 39 Steps The 39 Steps

Story by Andy Argyrakis
Publicity Photos

Very few filmmakers ever earn the worldwide esteem of Alfred Hitchcock, which after over 50 films across six decades, truly puts the murder mystery mastermind in a class of his own. Though he's arguably best known for thrillers and spine chillers like "Dial M For Murder," "Rear Window," "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "Psycho," he also demonstrated a wry sense of humor on several occasions, such as 1935's classic "The 39 Steps."

Aside from earning immortalization on DVD, that latter flick recently made it's way to London's West End and the Broadway stage, scooping up a pair of Tony Awards and a Drama Desk Award in the process. In the touring adaptation of that same show (which is currently in residency at Chicago's Bank of America Theatre), the entire cast consists of just four remarkable actors, who all take turns playing a variety of parts, with a few of the fellas even donning drag to carry on a handful of particularly hysterical scenes.

Even though the main plotline revolves around the mystery of a spy who's attempting to steal British military secrets, there's an endless array of comic relief that falls somewhere in between signature Hitchcock and the slapstick of "Monty Python." Take for instance main character Richard Hannay (played by the superb Ted Deasy), who winds up heading home from the theatre with Annabella Schmidt (played by the dashing Claire Brownell), that fled after firing gunshots and winds up getting murdered in the middle of the night at his place by the bad guys.

Of course, Richard gets the blame for her death and has to flee as a fugitive, but along the way, he meets another sharp dressed lady named Pamela (also Brownell) on the train who he eventually ropes into being his innocence-proving partner. The pair eventually get caught and handcuffed together by a few secret agents, but manage to flee from the cop car during a fog storm to a cheap motel where they're forced to sign in under a fake identity.

Additional hysteria ensures as the dubious couple makes their way to the very same theatre where all the shenanigans originally happened to comfort their arch-nemesis, and without giving too much away, let's just say it results in a riotous shootout of purposefully over dramatized proportions. In the end "The 39 Steps" may be an intentionally low budget spoof on the horror genre, but was told with such sophistication and impressive character transitions from the talented troupe that it's simply an underground staple waiting to be discovered by the masses.

"The 39 Steps" continues at the Bank of America Theatre through May 30. For additional details, visit or

The 39 Steps The 39 Steps The 39 Steps
The 39 Steps The 39 Steps

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