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The 39 Steps at Limelight Theatre

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Hitchcock meets hilarious in The 39 Steps
The 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock, John Buchan, comedy, play, Limelight Theatre, Monty Python, spy thriller, performing arts
Gordon Park, Gino Cataldo, Emma Shaw and Andrew Govey are appearing in The 39 Steps at Limelight Theatre.

Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have Limelight Theatre's latest production, The 39 Steps. Adapted from the John Buchan novel by Patrick Barlow, it is best known from the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film adaptation Barlow turned the spy thriller into a comedy in 2005 with four actors playing a wide variety of roles.

The two-time Tony and Drama Desk Award winner has played extensively in London's West End and on Broadway and is the fifth longest-running play in West End history.

In The 39 Steps, Richard Hannay seeks a frivolous night out at the theatre and 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 and experiences a series of misadventures and old-fashioned romance.

The 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock, John Buchan, comedy, play, Limelight Theatre, Monty Python, spy thriller, performing arts
Richard Hannay (Gino Cataldo, left) and Pamela (Emma Shaw) finds themselves shackled together in The 39 Steps.

Director James Hough-Neilson said he had previously seen the Broadway and West End productions of The 39 Steps. "It's a play not to be missed because it's extremely funny," he said. "I was asked to direct the show for Limelight Theatre by a member of the cast.

"It's a very challenging play to present and I decided to rise to the challenge. The 39 Steps must be performed at a great pace and the comedy timing has to be spot on. There are something like 110 sound and musical effects, not to mention the physical efforts required by the cast."

A professional actor, on and off, for the past 62 years, James has a wealth of experience behind him and then some. He studied at London Drama School, then spent three years learning and performing a play a week in repertory theatre and appeared in the number one West End play Summer Seasons. Numerous UK television appearances followed, along with radio work and various commercials.

In WA, James has worked with Stirling, Limelight and Playlovers Theatres over the past 25 years, performing in or directing productions such as Breaker Morant, Showboat, The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, My Fair Lady, The Importance of Being Earnest, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Hobson's Choice. His 2006 production of The Judas Kiss at Playlovers received best director, best play, best costumes and best supporting actor accolades at the annual Finley Awards.

"I have retired from directing three times but keep being persuaded back!" James said. "With The 39 Steps, I have an extremely talented team of people around me and the rehearsals are going well I defy anyone not to have good laugh."

The 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock, John Buchan, comedy, play, Limelight Theatre, Monty Python, spy thriller, performing arts
In The 39 Steps, Gordon Park, left, and Andrew Govey play all manner of different individuals both male and female and young and old while adopting various appropriate accents.

Andrew Govey plays one of the two so-called clowns the term the author uses for the actors who have to play role after different role. "I play 12 characters, both male and female, and all with different accents," he said. "The main challenge is being able to remember which character I am playing, at what time and with which accent.

"The changing hat scene has to be seen to be believed I would have to say that particular scene is one of the most tricky I've ever played.

"The 39 Steps appealed for a few reasons. There was the challenge of playing so many different characters and the fact I'd be working with such a talented and experienced director and technical manager, as well as a similarly well-qualified and experienced cast and crew.

"I've never been involved in a play that has been so well-supported by so many from the very first rehearsal. It should be an excellent production."

The 39 Steps plays at 8pm October 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17. Tickets are $21, $18 concession, $16 children book on 0499 954 016 between 9am and midday, Monday to Friday, or at www.limelighttheatre.com. Limelight Theatre is located on Civic Drive, Wanneroo.

The 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock, John Buchan, comedy, play, Limelight Theatre, Monty Python, spy thriller, performing arts
Gino Cataldo (left), Gordon Park (centre top), Andrew Govey (centre bottom) and Emma Shaw are mixing up a Hitchcock masterpiece and juicy spy novel in The 39 Steps.
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Why? It's a laugh-a-minute spoof of a Hitchcock classic
When: 8pm October 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17
Phone: 0499 954 016
Where: Limelight Theatre, Civic Drive, Wanneroo
Cost: Tickets are $21, $18 concession, $16 children.
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