‘39 Steps’ promises to delight with murder mystery

Murder, mystery, comedy: all the themes of the fast-paced mystery set in 1935 Britain comes to life in Jones Theatre beginning at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Baylor’s theater department presents “The 39 Steps,” a multi-role murder mystery involving spies, romantic entanglements, murder, suspense and police.

The play is unique because two of the actors play more than 40 characters each.

The play will run at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with matinées at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The play is based on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 movie of the same name. Hitchcock made the movie based on John Buchan’s 1915 novel, “The 39 Steps.”

Director of “The 39 Steps,” and chairman of Baylor’s theater department Stan Denman said, “It makes fun of all the conventions of the old spy thrillers, and suspense/murder mystery-type thing.”

Plano junior Patrick Herndon, plays the main character, Richard Hanney, a British man who is bored with his life. Hanney attends the theater one night and ends up taking home a woman who caused a disturbance there earlier.

The plot continues as Hanney finds out the woman was a spy. She mentions 39 steps but does not reveal what it means. The woman is then murdered in Hanney’s apartment, and he is quickly framed for the murder by the police.

With multiple characters on his tail, he tries run from the police, prove he is an innocent man and solve the mystery of the 39 steps.

Taken by Monica Lake
Taken by Monica Lake

Casting for the show began last November, and rehearsal has been a six-week process.

“It has been a really fun process,” said Haslet senior Shelby Lee, one of the actresses. “It’s a very collaborative show, and it’s also just a ton of fun.”

The cast list also includes Wichita Falls senior Rachael Montgomery, Flower Mound sophomore Chynna Walker, Lewisville senior Richard Ross and Grand Prairie senior Chris Ramirez. Ross and Ramirez will play over 40 parts each.

“The show is very funny and hilarious, and of course I wanted to be a part of it,” Herndon said.

Lee said she expects the audience to be laughing.

“It’s a very interactive show. It’s a lot of plays on plays on plays,” Lee said.

Baylor has its own twists on the show, as the actors are expected to interact with the audience and change what they say depending on the audience’s reaction, Denman said.

Taken from Baylor University's Department of Theatre Arts
Taken from Baylor University’s Department of Theatre Arts

“There are lots of things that are particular to this Baylor production,” Denman said. “One of the things that the playwriting encourages you is to have fun with it, and keep a real sort of improvisational quality and to interact with the audience.”

Show rehearsals have been five to six nights a week from 7 to 11 p.m., but with spring break creating a gap between dress rehearsals, the production has had to bounce back from that delay.

“We have to get back and brush up on everything very quickly,” Denman said.

Tickets are available for $18 for general admission and $15 with a Baylor ID.


Originally posted and published in The Baylor Lariat

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