|Performing in The Actors Studio production of The 39 Steps are, from left, Jordan Davies, Brandon Shalansky, Doug Brown and Michelle Hussey.|
A tale full of surprises, quirky plots, twists and turns that guarantee lots of laughs.
A classic who-dun-it, The 39 Steps, is fast-paced and funny, and done with just four actors on stage - except that there are 150 characters in the play.
Taking on the somewhat daunting task at the Kelowna Actors Studio production are Michelle Hussey, Doug Brown, Brandon Shalansky and Jordan Davies.
None of the quartet are strangers to the stage, although this play leans on the magic of live theatre, and is packed with zany characters, most of who have to be created by Shalansky and Davies.
"There's a lot of physical comedy and lots of costume changes for Brandon and me because we have so many characters to play," Davies noted. "I play many different men and one woman, and it's a play an actor can really sink their teeth into, with all the accents and characters.
"I'm learning to keep it all straight, so that with a costume switch, change of posture or accent, I am managing to keep it together and remember who I am from scene to scene."
A long-time favourite, the play is loaded with references to many famous Hitchcock films (Rear Window, Psycho, Strangers on a Train), spiced with hilarious slapstick and a gripping spy plot that includes plane crashes, handcuffs, missing fingers and some good old-fashioned romance.
The set is minimalistic, relying on costumes and some props to draw the audience into the play with the actors' abilities to create the right mix of imagination in the audience.
The audience will be introduced to heroes, villains, men, women, children and even the occasional inanimate object.
Hussey takes on three femme fatale roles, as a German secret agent, a "sweet Scottish lass" and a "young Brit who's smart and savvy," she explained.
"As a play, this one is a bigger challenge, but I was drawn to it from a technical standpoint," she added. "Keeping the women straight is coming along. They have distinctive looks, and transform into each other with costumes and wigs."
As the love interest, she's teamed up with Brown, who takes on the role of the handsome but bored-with-life investigator, Richard Hannay, who finds himself tossed into an entertaining adventure when a spy is killed by assassins wielding a butter knife.
"I only have one character, so I've got the easy job," Brown quipped. "The play is a great old-fashioned spy spoof, all over-the-top, requires great comedic timing and it's challenging."
"The four actors carry it all," he added. "We're the characters and the stage crew, there's no special effects or set to hide behind; it's really crazy and frantic, very funny. The audience is in for a real treat -Â they won't know what hit them."
Although The 39 Steps has been around for decades, the play is receiving new found attention and wowing audiences with funny-bone tickling antics in recent years.
It has played in numerous major theatres across North America and collected numerous awards, including Best Comedy, Drama Desk and two Tony Awards, while critics have declared it to be "theatre at its finest' and 'absurdly enjoyable."
Director Randy Leslie added that The 39 Steps is the "fun of Noises Off and Spamalot combined with an homage to the film noir Hitchcock made famous."
What: The 39 Steps, presented by Kelowna Actors Studio
When: Feb. 5 - 22, Wed. to Sun. evenings at 8 p.m. Sat. matinee 1 p.m.
Where: Kelowna Actors Studio, 1379 Ellis St.
Tickets: Dinner and show or show only, available at the KAS box office, 250-862-2867, KelownaActorsStudio.com.