Spy Thriller Parody ‘The 39 Steps’

39 StepsTales of intrigue on a cinematic scale come to the Austin College stage when The 39 Steps is presented November 15 through November 17, with shows at 7:30 each evening. Tickets are $8 for the general public or free with a current Austin College ID. The Austin College Improv Troupe will perform each night after the feature play. For more information call 903.813.2281. The script includes some simulated violence and gun play but no significant adult themes.

The script by English playwright, actor, and comedian Patrick Barlow is a stage adaptation of the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the classic 1935 movie by Alfred Hitchcock. The play is unique because the more-than-130 characters included are played by only four actors. Words like spy thriller, comedy, and “a dash of Monty Python” have been used to describe the production that premiered in June 2005 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Austin College senior Jacob Dowling of Little Rock, Arkansas, selected the script and directs the student production. “I wanted to do something that would be challenging to put on a stage, and not the usual thing of people standing on stage just talking about their problems. I wanted to do something bigger, cinematic, and also fun. The 39 Stepschecks all those boxes,” he said.

With all the elements of a spy thriller, The 39 Steps includes staging feats and the humor of parody while the story travels from London to the Scottish highlands.

Main character Richard Hannay, played by senior Marissa Wilkinson of Wilsonville, Oregon, is framed for a crime and is on the run from the police. Vignette adventures unfold including three different love interests, all played by senior Sarah Klawun of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and a plane chase that references Hitchcock’s classic movie North by Northwest. Junior Robbie Moore of Garland, Texas, and senior Bailey Carrell of San Antonio, Texas, play the many remaining characters in the story.

The student production includes the following production staff members: sophomore Michael Megenhardt of Houston, stage manager; junior Drew Maienschein of Claremore, Oklahoma, and Kat Forbus of Plano, Texas, assistant stage managers; senior Matthew Rapier and Erin Bobbit both of Plano, Texas, sound designers; junior Aurora Hadzic of New Market, Maryland, costume designer; and Harper Jambor and Abbey Goodman both of Austin, Texas, properties designers. Liz Banks, associate professor of theatre, designed the set and lights.

In December, the Austin College directing class will present a series of one-act plays.

Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change LivesAustin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.