Monday, July 28, 2014

‘The 39 Steps’ combines thrills, comedy, romance

March 06. 2014 3:01PM
By Mary Therese Biebel


What: ‘The 39 Steps’

Who: Performed by the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through March 23

Where: Alvina Krause Theatre, 226 Center St., Bloomsburg

More info: 570-784-8181 or

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Do you ever feel a little jaded? A trifle bored? Is daily life all too mundane?

When a character named Richard Hannay feels that way in 1930s England, he seeks entertainment at a musical variety show.

There he meets a mysterious woman who invites herself over to his apartment, and soon his life becomes very exciting, even dangerous, as he finds himself suspected of murder and pursued by the police.

“He finds there is real meaning in his life right now as he tries to fight for his freedom, using every bit of wit and muscle he’s got,” said James Goode, who is directing “The 39 Steps” for the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble through March 23.

Part spy thriller, part comedy and part romance, the story is familiar to anyone who has seen Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 movie of the same name, or read the original book by Scottish author John Buchan.

“The stage version was developed from the screenplay after the movie fell into the public domain a number of years ago,” Goode said.

In this lively stage version, one actor (Aaron White) plays Hannay, and four other actors portray about 30 other characters, from a professor to a stern farmer to a hotel desk clerk to a traveling salesman to assorted police who pursue the hero as he tries to unravel a Nazi plot.

“They’re really a delightful assortment of people who help or hinder him,” Goode said.

The action follows the protagonist as he jumps off a train, climbs onto a bridge and drops into water below.

“Almost any time there’s a window on stage, he’ll jump through it, or try to,” the director said. “It’s a wonderful, good time.”

Audiences can watch Hannay run across the moors of Scotland and, when he’s back in England, he’ll join a parade, the better to march away from the police and straight into a political rally, where he ends up on stage in place of the planned speaker.

“He’s got to make up this speech, and he draws inspiration from what’s going on in his life,” Goode said. “He says ‘We all have to band together’ because the bad guy is a Nazi, and when he finds out what the Nazis are up to, he gets reconnected to the very genuine democratic ideal that the Nazis are against. He finds there is real meaning in his life right now.”

The plot gets even better.

“At the same time,” Goode said, “he’s falling in love.”

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