NEW ULM– The State Street Theater Company production of “39 Steps” is a play with 30 speaking characters with a cast of 10 – exactly as it was intended.
The play is based on the spy movie “39 Steps” by Alfred Hitchcock, but the play is a comedy closer to Monty Python. The plot features a larger-than-life story that moves between England and Scotland, with dozens of scene changes. The comedy comes from the fact that the play features a minimal cast.
The plot follows hero Richard Hannay, played by Trevor Braget, who becomes embroiled in the plot involving the spy organization known as the “39 steps.” Braget is the only actor who plays a single role. All other actors play at least three characters. Actress Katie Schwartz plays the three women who become romantically entangled with Hannay. Some actors are even forced to play several characters in the same scene.
The cast and production crew have been hard at work preparing for the premier this weekend. It is a unique game with many challenges to complete.
Director Andrea Broman said the set design was the hardest part of bringing the play to life. There are several different locations in the story, from flat and trains to Scottish moors and London theaters. The team helped design modular sets that could be easily moved around the stage as needed. Casting helps move the backdrop and props around during scene changes.
Broman said the biggest challenge was moving from small, intimate spaces to large ones. Hitchcock was able to go from small intimate scenes to full-scale suspense scenes with ease on film, but on stage it’s a bigger challenge.
Fortunately, the cast is ready. Broman said she works with a wonderful cast that is full of creative ideas. Broman said she loves it when cast members come up with an idea to improve a scene.
Another fun aspect of “39 Steps” is the use of language. Since the film is set in England and Scotland with characters from multiple nations, the actors had a dialect coach work with them. Besides giving the story extra authenticity, it helps set the characters apart.
Performances are at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23, with a 2 p.m. performance on Sunday, April 24.
General admission is $15. Tickets are available at Hy-Vee, New Ulm Chamber and online at statestreetnewulm.org.