The Standing Room Only (SRO) theater company will come back to the stage this November after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a nearly 20-month hiatus for the group.
The company will present “The 39 Steps” on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Nov. 5-21 at The Outpost Church, 102 E. Yelm Ave. The church is the former location of the Triad Theater.
“This parody of a spy thriller has a vaudevillian style that will keep you laughing,” stated a news release. “Join us in ushering in a new era of live theater in our community.”
The play is directed by Dale Sharp, stage managed by Taylor Hergert and produced by Hannah Longshore and Dave Champagne. It stars Drew Doyle, Kellie Petersen, Longshore and Champagne.
“This play is a playful homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers,” said producer Champagne. “He has a movie called, ‘The 39 Steps,’ an intense thriller. This is the parody/comedy version of that and it is so much fun. We rehearse and all we do is laugh. I am completely positive that the audience will respond in the exact same way, because there is no hiding how much fun we are having.”
He said such levity brings its own challenges, however.
“If we can avoid making each other laugh on stage, that will be the biggest challenge,” Champagne said.
SRO hand-selected the production because it is director Sharp’s “passion project,” Champagne said, but also because of its low-production cost and limited cast.
“But what it lacks in expensive sets and soundtracks, it makes up for in the very complex ballet for the performers of costume changes and changing hats and going off stage and coming on as someone else moments later,” Champagne said. “It’s one of the most complex shows I’ve ever done in that regard.”
Champagne is playing at least 10 characters in a “clown” type role that represents comedic turns ranging from police officers to hitmen and inn owners.
“I am honestly most excited for my friends and family to be able to come out and enjoy a show they have just been begging for and so grateful for,” Champagne said. “Everyone is so excited. It almost brings tears to our eyes just to hear how grateful people are in this community to be able to come out and enjoy live theater again. It’s almost more than appreciation. I think it’s therapeutic at this point.”
Director Sharp said the play is about a chauvinistic man that gets entwined in a spy story. There are motifs of love and plenty of action sequences throughout the play, he said.
“And then it’s just the true nature of evil (that) can lie behind the most beautiful things,” Sharp said. “That’s what we start finding in (the play), and the idea is that we’ve got to work together and accomplish things to try to save our world, because it’s our world that we want to protect.”
A first time director, Sharp said he is inspired by bringing film to stage.
He’s been with SRO since 2019 when he auditioned and got the role of Leaf Coneybear in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” From there, he stage-managed and costumed “Mamma Mia,” which was one of the last shows held at the old Triad Theater which is now the Outpost Church. In early 2020, SRO started production of “Calendar Girls,” for which he was the technical director, but the show was halted after the first week of performances because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Producer Longshore extended her thanks to The Outpost Church for letting SRO perform in its old space.
“The Outpost leadership, they’ve been amazing,” Longshore said. “They’ve been more than generous in letting us use this space. They’ve been really flexible with our schedule and getting us little things that we need.”
“The 39 Steps” was adapted for stage by Patrick Barlow from the Alfred Hitchcock film adaptation of the novel by John Buchan. It is licensed by ITV Global Entertainment Limited with the original concept created by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon. It will be presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc., found online at www.concordtheatricals.com.
Tickets cost $20 for general admission — with $15 for students, military service members and seniors — and can be purchased online at m.bpt.me/event/5270319.
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