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Hitchcock-inspired farce comes to OHS stage



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Meet the cast of “The 39 Steps” (clockwise from left) – Ashley Sovis (seated), Bobby Desmarais, Rachael Craine, Jacob Brubaker, Levi Raab and Zach Throne (seated). Sovis and Desmarais are the understudies. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
November 02, 2011 - The cast is small, but the laughs promise to be huge as the Oxford High School Theater Company brings "The 39 Steps" to the stage of the Fine Arts Center.

"It's a fun show," said OHS teacher Katie Blaszczyk, who's co-directing the play with fellow teacher Debby Brown. "You're going to laugh. You're going to wonder how the kids were able to do this."

Performances are scheduled for Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tickets are $3 for adults and children.

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"The 39 Steps" is a farce adapted from a 1915 novel by John Buchan and a 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock, the master of cinematic mystery and suspense. The comedic play premiered on stage in 2005 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, England.

Set in 1930s England and Scotland, the play follows the hilarious adventures of Richard Hannay, who, while attending a demonstration of the remarkable powers of a man known as "Mr. Memory" at a London theater, gets caught up in an espionage plot to steal vital British miliary secrets.

The play is filled with references and puns related to other famous Hitchcock movies such as Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho.

"I saw it at the West End in London and it was amazing," Blaszczyk said.

Last year, the OHS theater students saw the play at Meadow Brook Theatre and fell in love with it.

"The kids were actually the ones that came to us and said we really want to do this," Blaszczyk said.

Unlike other school plays which typically have large casts, "The 39 Steps" involves only four actors, three of which portray multiple characters including heroes, villains, men, women, children and even inanimate objects.

"It takes a veteran cast to do something like this," Blaszczyk said. "It's something that we've never, ever tried before."

Peforming will be seniors Zach Throne and Jacob Brubaker along with juniors Levi Raab and Rachael Craine. Understudies are Ashley Sovis and Bobby Desmarais.

"The kids have worked very, very hard to accomplish this," Blaszczyk noted. "It's a tough show to put together."

It was very ambitious of the OHS Theater Company to tackle this project considering the group is also in the process of getting ready for its production of "Alice in Wonderland," set to hit the stage Nov. 17-19.

"This is the first season we're running two full-length shows at the same time," Blaszczyk said.

Tickets for "The 39 Steps" can be obtained at the door prior to the show or in advance by calling (248) 969-5100 and dialing extension 4175 for Brown or 4119 for Blaszczyk.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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