Roundabout Run of 39 Steps Ends March 29, Only to Surface April 29 at Cort

News   Roundabout Run of 39 Steps Ends March 29, Only to Surface April 29 at Cort The 39 Steps, the gleefully silly stage version of the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller, will step out of the American Airlines Theatre after its 8 PM March 29 performance.

Jennifer Ferrin and Charles Edwards in The 39 Steps
Jennifer Ferrin and Charles Edwards in The 39 Steps Photo by Joan Marcus

The four-actor, quick-change comedy will start again in one month, at the Cort Theatre. The Roundabout Theatre Company extended its current run of the Olivier Award-winning lark by one week, to March 29. Audiences and critics embraced the Broadway premiere, which offers specific references to a handful of Hitchcock pictures — even those that came after Hitch's 1935 movie "The 39 Steps." (Yes, there is a shower curtain gag that recalls "Psycho.")

Following a Boston engagement presented by the Huntington Theatre Company, the production began Broadway previews at Roundabout American Airlines on Jan. 4 toward a Jan. 15 opening.

Maria Aitken, director of the original hit London production, also staged this U.S. version, which boasts original star Charles Edwards, who played the role of starchily handsome Richard Hannay in the London cast.

Commercial producers now take the silly caper to the Cort Theatre, where performances begin April 29 (all seats at $39 at that performance) toward a May 8 opening.

(Next up at the American Airlines is Roundabout's new production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses starring Laura Linney. It begins April 12.) Patrick Barlow's stage adaptation of The 39 Steps is based on an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon and the novel penned by John Buchan in 1915. The work is perhaps most widely known as a 1935 Hitchcock film, but the tale was also seen in movie re-makes.

With a nod to the entire Hitchcock oeuvre, four players take on all the characters involved in this "whodunit, part espionage thriller and part slapstick comedy," as the high-impact, low-tech work is billed.

The 39 Steps begins as "Richard Hannay is lured into a world of intrigue by a mysterious woman claiming to be a spy," according to show notes. "When she winds up dead in his flat, he flees London with the police hot on his trail."

Edwards is joined by Jennifer Ferrin (in the female roles of Annabella, Pamela and Margaret) with Arnie Burton and Cliff Saunders in an array of roles (often, more than one at a time) ranging from train passengers to secret agents to innkeepers to a bog — yes, they play inanimate objects. (This same cast starred in the 2007 Boston run.)

The design team includes Peter McKintosh (scenic and costume), Kevin Adams (lighting) and Mic Pool (sound).

The 39 Steps was originally presented onstage by North Country Theatre in April 1996 at the Georgian Theatre, Richmond, North Yorkshire. The show played London's Tricycle Theatre in 2006 and then transferred to the West End's Criterion Theatre and earned the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.

Roundabout Theatre Company in association with Bob Boyett, Harriet Leve/Ron Nicynski, Fiery Angel Ltd. and the Huntington Theatre Company presented the New York premiere of the acclaimed work.

The Cort engagement will be produced by Bob Boyett, Harriet Newman Leve/Ron Nicynski, Stewart F. Lane/Bonnie Comley, Manocherian Golden Prods., Olympus Theatricals/Douglas Denoff, Marek J. Cantor/Pat Addiss, Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, artistic director; Harold Wolpert, managing director; Julia Levy, executive director), Huntington Theatre Company (Nicholas Martin, artistic director; Michael Maso, managing director) and Edward Snape for Fiery Angel Ltd.

The cast also includes Claire Brownell, Cameron Fulmar and Mark Shanahan.

Tickets to The 39 Steps at the American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd Street, are available by calling (212) 719-1300 or by visiting roundabouttheatre.org.

The Cort Theatre box office is also open for the commercial run that begins April 29.

For Cort tickets, call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.telecharge.com or the Cort Theatre box office, 138 W. 48th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.

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Here's how the producers bill the show: "Mix Alfred Hitchcock's cinematic masterpiece with a juicy spy novel. Then, add the manic dash of vintage Monty Python and you have The 39 Steps — equal parts hilarious whodunit, espionage thriller and quick-change comedy, adapted for the stage from Hitchcock's famous 1935 film and John Buchan's 1915 novel. Seeking a frivolous night out at the theatre, Richard Hannay is lured into a world of intrigue by a mysterious woman claiming to be a spy. When she winds up dead in his flat, he flees London with the police hot on his trail."

Dialect coach is Stephen Gabis. Original movement was created by Toby Sedgwick. Additional movement created by Christopher Bayes. Production management is by Aurora Productions. Production stage manager is Nevin Hedley.

For more information visit www.whatarethe39steps.com.

Arnie Burton, Cliff Saunders and Charles Edwards in the Broadway production of <i>The 39 Steps</i>
Arnie Burton, Cliff Saunders and Charles Edwards in the Broadway production of The 39 Steps Photo by Joan Marcus