By MIKE CHAIKEN
This weekend experience the thrills— overwhelmed by laughter— of “The 39 Steps” as Southington Community Theatre offers its rendition of the award-winning show.
The show, which opens Friday night, according to press materials, is a comedy/ thriller about “a man with a boring life (who) meets a woman with a thick accent who says she’s a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered. Soon, a mysterious organization called ‘The 39 Steps’ is hot on the man’s trail in a nationwide manhunt that climaxes in a death-defying finale.”
When she read the script, the show’s director Carolyn Ciarrochi said she knew she had to take the reins of the show.
“‘The 39 Steps’ is silly, slapstick, and over-the-top, but at its core it’s a really moving story about love and the strength of the human spirit,” said Ciarrochi. “This play is often described as Monty Python meets Alfred Hitchcock, and as a lifelong Monty Python fan, I knew it was a challenge I had to take on.”
As a director, it’s Ciarrochi’s job to keep the train of comedy rolling full steam ahead.
“One of the unique and hilarious things about ‘The 39 Steps’ is that our four cast members must play all the characters – and there are many,” said Ciarrochi. “These very talented actors play multiple people, sometimes simultaneously, and perform many Olympic feats of strength—and lightning fast costume changes). It requires a lot of hats, accents, energy, and dedication.”
The challenge for the performers is “each character adds an essential element, whether it’s intrigue, romance, or comic relief,” said Ciarrochi.
“Our hero, Richard Hannay, played with a lot of heart by Brett Aiello, is a lonely, bored hapless bachelor who suddenly finds himself in the middle of an international spy crisis,” said Ciarrochi. “Emma Lasher, in her first show with SCT, plays his three love interests – a vivacious spy, a sweet, shy farmer’s wife, and our heroine, Pamela. Our two ‘clowns,’ Shane McNeal and Maureen Deming, deftly and hilariously play everyone else – from salesmen to innkeepers, from evil professor to the amazing Mr. Memory.”
“When I read ‘The 39 Steps,’ it did make me laugh, but it also left me feeling hopeful. I wanted this cast to bring the funny, but always be mindful of that hopeful spirit at its core,” said the director.
The show, which has won a Tony, has been given the SCT seal of approval, said Ciarrochi.
“SCT has been incredibly supportive every step of the way during this process,” said the director. “I have been so lucky in working with Peter Pristic, our wonderful producer, and my right-hand-woman Jyll Perlini, our stage manager. We have made some outlandish requests, from fog machines to flying an airplane onstage, and as always the members of SCT have worked together to make these things happen.”
Audiences will enjoy “The 39 Steps” because, “It’s a universal human experience to feel lost and lonely at one point or another. Sometimes, like Richard, we need something to jolt us into taking the next meaningful step in our lives – whether it’s a new romance or a new adventure, it’s a journey I think we all take. All the better if we can learn to laugh at it. This show is an opportunity to do just that.”
Additionally, she said, “The talent, dedication, energy and enthusiasm of this cast have made this show a pleasure to direct. They have spent months cracking me up at every single rehearsal, and we are so excited to be able to share it with everyone.”
Southington Community Theatre will present “The 39 Steps” Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at DePaolo Middle School, 385 Pleasant St., Southington. Tickets are $15 each for children under 18 and seniors 65 and older, and $20 each for adults.
Tickets are available at Just For You Gift Shoppe, 979 Meriden-Waterbury Rd., Plantsville, The Music Shop, 405 Queen St., Southington, Domino’s, 200 Main St., Southington, and at the door. Tickets are also available online via Brown Paper Tickets at brownpapertickets.com/event/3061233.
For more information, visit www.southingtoncommunitytheatre.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (860)833-7160.