The 39 Steps | I’ve Seen This Story Before…

39 Steps Slide

The story originally debuted as a novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps, written by John Buchan and published in 1915. The title has enjoyed continuous print circulation since that date and is the first of five books featuring Richard Hannay. In the premiere story, Hannay discovers an international conspiracy to assassinate a Greek leader and lead Europe into a war. The Hannay character continues to appear as the protagonist in four additional novels by Buchan, along with supporting roles in two other stories and a later “non-Buchan” novel published after the author’s death. In Buchan’s autobiography, he suggests the character is inspired by Edmund Ironside, an Edinburgh native who became a spy during the Second Boer War.

The story was taken up by director Alfred Hitchcock in a 1935 film version, titled The 39 Steps. One of Hitchcock’s early successes, the film sets the stage for many of the director’s future film treatments, including the presence of an icy femme fatale, and an unflappable leading man. The film continues to enjoy wide recognition well into the present day. The 1935 version received a reworking in a new color film released in 1959, directed by Ralph Thomas. This film was only seen in the UK and has been somewhat forgotten in the years since.

In 1978, the story again appeared on film as The Thirty-Nine Steps. Screenwriter Michael Robson adapted the material with several deviations from what had been seen before, including a fight on Big Ben and a climactic sequence in southern England, rather than Scotland. The film serves one of a handful of adult acting roles for Karen Dotrice, who starred as the female lead and remains well-known for her child acting performance as Jane Banks in Mary Poppins. As Hannay, actor Robert Powell received good notices for his performance and reprised the role 10 years later in a two-season-long television series featuring further exploits of the character.

The story lept back into the public consciousness following the debut of The 39 Steps stage production in 2006. Writers Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon had reimagined the story in 1995 for a cast of four actors. A rewrite, by Patrick Barlow, appeared at the UK’s West Yorkshire Playhouse during the summer of 2006, later transferring to London, first at North London’s Tricycle Theatre and then into the Criterion Theatre, where it continues to run today.

In the US, The 39 Steps debuted at the Huntington Theatre Company, in Boston on September 19, 2007. The title hit Broadway in a Roundabout Theatre production at the American Airlines Theatre, with previews beginning January 4, 2008 and the official opening on January 15, 2008.

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THE 39 STEPS PROMISES A HILARIOUS FINALE TO THE SEASON

DETROIT – The Hilberry Theatre Company is pleased to present the final production of its 52nd season. The 39 Steps, running April 10th – 25th, takes a well-known story immortalized on film by Alfred Hitchcock and adds comedic, suspenseful, and fast-paced twists. The play is adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan and the movie by Alfred Hitchcock.

Michael Manocchio, photo by Ian Wolfe and Sandra Turner

Michael Manocchio, photo by Ian Wolfe and Sandra Turner

This hilarious spoof of the 1935 Hitchcock thriller blends frenzied performances and wildly inventive stagecraft with spies, murder, and some good old-fashioned romance!  A two-time Tony and Drama Desk award winner, The 39 Steps is a serious spy story turned madcap comedy, full of biting wit and hilarious character changes, as well as allusions to and puns on other Hitchcock classic stories.

The Hilberry welcomes guest director Russell Treyz, who has a wide range of production credits across the country. Treyz describes the play as “great fun for audience and actors alike. Newbies to Hitchcock and Hitchcock addicts will both revel in the fun and suspense of the story and its references. The original creators of this theater piece built it from shot to shot references to Hitchcock’s original film, but it has also grown to include much more for fans of classic suspense cinema.”

Tickets for The 39 Steps range from $10–$31 and are available by calling the Hilberry Theatre Box Office at (313) 577-2972, online at Hilberry.com, or by visiting the box office at 4743 Cass Avenue at the corner of Hancock Street.

The Hilberry’s recently unveiled 2015-16 season promises a delightful array of comedy and drama. The season will kick off with the Southeast Michigan premiere of One Man, Two Guvnors, a recent Broadway hit. Next up will be a new adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, running both on the mainstage and in special student group matinees. Appearing just in time for the holidays will be Inspecting Carol, a backstage holiday comedy. Early 2016 brings William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, followed by the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Clybourne Park, addressing gentrification in 21st century urban America. The season will conclude in April 2016 with David Ives’ hysterical version of the French farce, A Flea in Her Ear.

Calendar Information

Wednesday 2 p.m.          April 15 (Post show Talkback)
Thursday 8 p.m.                April 16 (Preshow Discussion), April 23
Friday 8 p.m.                      April 10 (Opening Night), April 17, April 24
Saturday 2 p.m.                April 11, April 25
Saturday 8 p.m.                April 11, April 18, April 25

Cast (in alphabetical order):

Bevin Bell-Hall (Woman), Devri Chism (Stage Hand), Julian David Colletta (Stage Hand), Santino Craven (Stage Hand), Michael Manocchio (Richard Hannay), Brandy Joe Plambeck (Clown), Michael Phillip Thomas (Clown)

Production Team:

Russell Treyz (Director), Lyndee Hallahan (Stage Manager), Allison Baker (Assistant Stage Manager), Tonae Mitsuhashi (Set Designer), Mary Gietzen (Costume Designer), Eric Haugen (Lighting Designer), Amy M. Schneider (Sound Designer), Stephanie Baugher (Properties Master), Brian Dambacher (Technical Director), Mario Raymond (Master Electrician), Dale Dorlin (Publicist), JP Hitesman (Assistant Publicist).

About the Hilberry Theatre Company

Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance serves students as a nexus of performance, production, and research in the fields of dance, theatre, and performance studies.  It provides a wide variety of degree programs that allow students the flexibility to study these disciplines broadly or to concentrate more specifically in performance, design, or management.  The Hilberry Theatre hosts a professional theatre company that is staffed by graduate students and runs on a rotating repertory schedule.  Each academic year, graduate students receive assistantships to work for the Hilberry Theatre and study for advanced degrees.  The company performs and produces an annual season of six plays, including high school matinees for nearly 6,000 students.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.

Hilberry MFA Costume Designer Anne Suchyta Awarded National Prize

Detroit, MI – Wayne State University Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to congratulate third-year graduate student Anne Suchyta on winning the Roesebrand® Action Design Competition award for Best Costume Design at the recent 2015 USITT Conference. The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) is a national service organization committed to promoting and advancing the fields of entertainment design and technology.

Anne is in her third and final year as a MFA (Master of Fine Arts) costume designer with the Hilberry Theatre Company and studies under the direction of John Woodland, area head for MFA costume design at Wayne State University.  Anne’s WSU design credits include Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning, Juliet), Big Love, In the Red and Brown Water, Noises Off, and The Way of the World, recently recorded for inclusion in the NY Public Library’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at Lincoln Center.

Asked about her experience at USITT, Anne says, “I had a great time participating in the Action Design Competition. I enjoyed collaborating with students from various backgrounds and racing against the clock to create something beautiful.”

The Action Design Competition challenges participants to create the best scenic environment with limited supplies and time. Designers from across the nation are assembled into teams of four and awards are given to the best overall group design and individual awards are given for each specialization (lighting design, scenic design, costume design, and technical direction). Anne’s quick-thinking ingenuity earned her the individual prize for best costume design.

Anne’s teacher and supervisor, John Woodland, was not surprised with Anne’s win, “We were terribly pleased that Anne Suchyta  and her classmate, Mary Gietzen, and were selected to be two of the four finalists in the 2015 Rosebrand® USITT Action Design Competition. We were even more excited that Anne was the winner of the competition. Over the past three years, Anne has really developed as a creative artist through many sleepless nights working on costume renderings and developing her vast talents in stitching in the costume shop. It is really great to know that our students can compete on a national competitive level, but that can also lead the others in that forum.”

John Wolf, Chair of the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance said, “Anne’s award is a great honor that illustrates the exceptional talent in the Hilberry company. Congratulations, Anne!”

Hilberry’s thought-provoking ‘An Enemy of the People’ well worth seeing

By Sue Suchyta

Dearborn Times-Herald – March 20, 2015

Don't miss the FINAL WEEKEND - March 26 - 28

When should a person risk his own safety and the well-being of his family to protect the majority, people blinded by ignorance or greed, from their own folly?

In Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People,” Dr. Stockmann faces this dilemma when he discovers the water feeding the town’s health spa, which has dramatically improved the area’s economy, is contaminated with bacteria, causing serious health problems among the guests, including typhus.

Understandably, in an era when most people did not know about bacteria, tiny creatures visible only under a microscope, they do not comprehend the doctor’s concern, but they do realize what would happen to their town if they lost their reputation as a restorative destination.

To complicate matters, the doctor’s brother is the town’s mayor, and his father-in-law’s tannery may be the source of the contamination.

The town claims to embrace democracy, but they do not want to hear the doctor’s warnings, and they do not want him ruining the town’s livelihood by spreading the news beyond its borders. The majority also oppose a tax to create a new water intake and filtering facility.

Miller may have seen parallels to the McCarthy-era witch hunts when he adapted Ibsen’s play.

Brandy Joe Plambeck is tremendous as Dr. Stockmann, a man pledged to do no harm, who struggles to protect the public while his own family is threatened and vilified.

READ FULL REVIEW HERE

Theatre & Dance at Wayne to Host “A Conversation with Apple Award Recipient Garth Fagan”

Garth Fagan

DETROIT – Garth Fagan, Tony Award winner for “Best Choreography” in The Lion King, founder and artistic director of Garth Fagan Dance, is receiving the Apple Award from Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance.  “A Conversation with Apple Award Recipient Garth Fagan” will be sponsored by The Berman Foundation and hosted at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts on March 28 at 7:00 p.m.  Mr. Fagan will appear in an “actors studio” style interview and question-and-answer session.  Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at wsushows.com, at 313- 577-2972 at the Wayne State University or at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts Box Office.

Fagan, a Wayne State University alumni, began his career when he toured Latin America with Ivy Baxter and her national dance company from Jamaica.  Baxter and two other famed dance teachers from the Caribbean, Pearl Primus and Lavinia Williams, were major influences on Fagan.  In New York City, Fagan studied with Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Mary Hinkson, and Alvin Ailey, who were all central to his development.  Fagan was director of Detroit’s All-City Eastside Dance Company and principal soloist and choreographer for Detroit Contemporary Dance Company and Dance Theatre of Detroit.

Garth Fagan was awarded the prestigious 1998 Tony Award, England’s 2000 Laurence Olivier Award, and Australia’s 2004 Helpmann Award for his path-breaking choreography in Walt Disney’s The Lion King.  He also received the 1998 Drama Desk Award, 1998 Outer Critics Circle Award, 1998 Astaire Award, 2001 Ovation Award for his work on the Broadway production, which opened in fall 1997 to extraordinary critical praise

The Apple Award, named for Sarah Applebaum Nederlander, is given by the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University on behalf of the Nederlander family. In 2001, the Nederlander family formed a partnership with the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University, establishing the Sarah Applebaum Nederlander Award for Excellence in Theatre; an annual theatre award and visiting artist fund in their mother’s name. The Apple Award brings a nationally prominent theatre professional to Detroit and the Wayne State University campus as a guest lecturer to interact with and educate the rising stars of the Department of Theatre and Dance through master classes and a question-and-answer style forum. Previous Apple Award winners include Neil Simon, Carol Channing, Stephen Schwartz, Mandy Patinkin, Patti Lupone, Marvin Hamlisch, Elaine Stritch, and Tom Skerritt.

About Theatre & Dance at Wayne

Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance serves nearly 300 students as a nexus of performance, production, management, and research. It provides a wide choice of degree programs that allow students the flexibility to study these disciplines broadly or to concentrate more specifically. The dance program is one of the longest-running in the U.S., tracing its beginning to Ruth Lovell Murray’s founding of the Dance Workshop in 1928. The theatre program is internationally recognized as a training ground for theatre professionals. The Hilberry Theatre is the nation’s longest-running graduate repertory company. The two programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre and the National Association of Schools of Dance, respectively.

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“A Conversation with Apple Award Recipient Garth Fagan”

Calendar Information:

Saturday 7:00 p.m.      March 28, 2015

The Berman Center for the Performing Arts

6600 West Maple

West Bloomfield, MI 48322

$25

The Hilberry Theatre Announces its 2015-16 Season

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DETROIT – The Hilberry Theatre announced its 2015-16 Season Friday during the opening night festivities for Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama, An Enemy of the People. Season tickets are on sale now.

This season promises to offer a dazzling array of productions. The Hilberry will kick off the season in October with the Southeast Michigan premiere of One Man, Two Guvnors, a recent Broadway hit. The season will feature classic and contemporary comedies and dramas, including Inspecting Carol, a backstage holiday comedy, and the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Clybourne Park, addressing gentrification in 21st century urban America.

A new stage adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby will play to general audiences in the fall and additional educational groups throughout the season. The Hilberry will continue its longstanding commitment to Shakespeare with Love’s Labour’s Lost. Following last season’s comedic hit All In The Timing, the Hilberry will close the season in April 2016 with David Ives’ hysterical version of the French farce, A Flea in Her Ear.

This season will also mark the debut of the Hilberry’s new Stage Door series, inviting theatregoers in their 20s and 30s to meet the Hilberry company members at a nearby restaurant following the performance. Subscriptions to this series are now available, with an introductory event scheduled for after the Saturday, April 18 performance of The 39 Steps.

To subscribe, call (313) 577-2972 or visit the Wayne State University Theatre and Dance Box Office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock Street. Subscribers are an integral part of the Hilberry community and enjoy discounted prices, priority seating, exchange privileges, lost ticket insurance, free coffee, a free subscription to the theatre’s newsletter, and an invitation to the annual Subscriber Party and Open House, which will take place on March 30, 2015.

One Man, Two Guvnors
By Richard Bean
October 2 – 17, 2015
Francis, who is easily confused, finds himself employed by both a local gangster and his upper-class criminal rival. He tries to keep his two jobs straight, despite a bad case of mistaken identity.

Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
Adapted for the stage by Simon Levy
October 30, 2015 – January 9, 2016
The thrill, glamour and decadence of the Jazz Age is exemplified in this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 masterpiece about a world of obsession, danger, and extravagance.

Inspecting Carol
By Daniel Sullivan and Seattle Repertory Theatre
December 4 – 19, 2015
An uproarious backstage comedy that highlights the joy, trials, and unpredictability of producing theatre. Calamaties surround a distressed theatre company’s catastrophic rendition of A Christmas Carol.

Love’s Labour’s Lost
By William Shakespeare
January 29 – March 12, 2016
The King of Navarre and his companions vow chastity while they complete their studies – until they meet the Princess of Aquitaine and her ladies. A gentle joust of courtly love ensues.

Clybourne Park
By Bruce Norris
February 26 – April 2, 2016
Racial tensions erupted as a black family attempts to move into Clybourne Park in the 1950’s. Fifty years later, the now all-black neighborhood is trying to hold its ground in the face of gentrification.

A Flea in Her Ear
By Georges Feydeau, adapted by David Ives
April 22 – May 7, 2016
A jealous wife is on the hunt to catch her husband in the act, after noticing a halt in his sexual appetite and receiving a pair of his suspenders in the mail from an unknown sender.

2015 – 16 at the Bonstelle Theatre:

Packages for the Bonstelle Theatre are available now at a discount for Hilberry Subscribers. The Bonstelle Theatre 2015-16 Season has a wide variety of entertaining performances, including enticing comedy and drama, superb dance performances, and a Golden Age musical. Package options are a 6-pack that includes all 6 performances, a Theatre Pack that includes three plays and the musical, and a Dance Pack that includes the two seasonal dance concerts.

Lysistrata
By Aristophanes
October 9 – 18, 2015
The men are at war. Their wives have had enough and offer an ultimatum: war or sex. The women of Greece must help their husbands rise to a decision.

James and the Giant Peach
By Roald Dahl, adapted by David Wood
November 13 – 22, 2015
Follow young James into a land of spiders, earthworms, and one giant peach on an adventure for the whole family.

December Dance Concert
December 11 – 12, 2015
Contemporary masters, including guest artists, Wayne State dance faculty, and student choreographers, come together for one weekend only.

A Raisin in the Sun
By Lorraine Hansberry
February 12 – 21, 2016
A black family struggles to retain their dignity as they face racism in light of moving to an all-white neighborhood. Clybourne Park, appearing at the Hilberry, was written in response to A Raisin in the Sun and follows a 50 year journey of the home the family purchases.

Spring Dance Concert
March 3 – 4, 2016
The pinnacle of dance in Midtown, receiving acclaim from the national stage; highlighting international and national works from a diverse mix of artists.

Oklahoma!
Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics & Book by Oscar Hammerstein II
April 15 – 24, 2016
A handsome cowboy competes with an ill-tempered ranch-hand for the affection of a lovely young farm girl in this ideal American Golden Age musical.

About Theatre and Dance at Wayne

Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance serves students as a nexus of performance, production and research in the fields of dance, theatre, and performance studies. It provides a wide choice of degree programs that allow students the flexibility to study these disciplines broadly or to concentrate more specifically in performance or management. The dance program is one of the longest-running in the U.S., tracing its beginning to Ruth Lovell Murray’s founding of the Dance Workshop in 1928. The theatre program is internationally recognized as a training ground for theatre professionals. The Hilberry Theatre is the nation’s longest-running graduate repertory company. The two programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance and the National Association of Schools of Theatre, respectively.

HILBERRY’S THE WAY OF THE WORLD TO BE ADDED TO THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY THEATRE ON FILM AND TAPE ARCHIVE

Hilberry - Way of the World (4)

Brandy Joe Plambeck and Annie Keris. Photo by Bruce Giffin.

DETROIT – The Hilberry Theatre Company is delighted to announce that its critically–acclaimed production of William Congreve’s The Way of the World will be recorded for inclusion in the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The Archive has been an integral part of theatre history and research since 1970, with a mandate to “preserve live theatrical productions and document the creative contributions of distinguished artists and legendary figures of the theatre.”

Theatre and Dance Chair John Wolf states, “The filming is an incredible opportunity for the Company to have its work preserved and available for future viewers to enjoy.”

The Way of the World is the pinnacle of Restoration Comedy,” states director Lavinia Hart, “and I am so privileged to have been given this opportunity and thrilled to have this production receive such appreciation from our audiences and from the press. Having this production accepted for inclusion in a prestigious national archive is beyond anything imagined. I am so very proud of what the Hilberry Theatre Company and I have accomplished together in bringing this beautiful production to life for Detroit, and now for generations to come, too.”

Michael Phillip Thomas and Bevin Bell-Hall. Photo by Bruce Giffin.

Michael Phillip Thomas and Bevin Bell-Hall.
Photo by Bruce Giffin

The Way of the World will return for four remaining performances at the Hilberry, March 5 through March 7. The production promises a delightful visual and literary feast, with period specific costuming and scenic design creating English homes and associated locations.

Local critics have praised the Hilberry’s production, with John Monagahan of the Detroit Free Press calling the production “an especially impressive undertaking for the Hilberry… a talented ensemble,” while Patty Nolan of the Examiner awarded the play five stars.

This comedy of manners is focused on social behavior, manipulation, and life in high society London households. The story skewers the stratified world of serving and aristocratic classes at the turn of the 18th century, with an emphasis on verbal wit and complicated romantic attractions. Such stories remain fascinating to our more democratic accessibilities, most notably witnessed in popular captivation with series including Downton Abbey.

Cast (in alphabetical order):
Bevin Bell-Hall (Lady Wishfort), Miles Boucher (Fainall), Devri Chism (Foible/Peg/Soloist), Julian David Colletta (Coachman/Footman/Messenger), Santino Craven (Sir Wilful Witwoud), Brandon Grantz (Coachman/Footman/Messenger), Logan Hart (Footman), Kyle Mitchell Johnson (Mirabell), Annie Keris (Mistress Millamant), Michael Manocchio (Witwoud), Sarah Hawkins Moan (Mistress Fainall), Taylor Morrow (Footwoman), Brandy Joe Plambeck (Petulant), Mary Sansone (Betty/Mincing), Anna Seibert (Footwoman), Mike Suchyta (Footman), Michael Phillip Thomas (Waitwell), Tiffany Michelle Thompson (Mistress Marwood).

Production Team:
Lavinia Hart (Director), Nira Pullin (Choreographer & Period Movement), Sarah Drum (Stage Manager), Lyndee Hallahan (Assistant Stage Manager), Sarah Pearline (Set Designer), Anne Suchyta (Costume Designer), Amy M. Schneider (Lighting Designer), Mario Raymond (Sound Designer), Tonae Mitsuhashi (Properties Master), Brian Dambacher (Technical Director), JP Hitesman (Publicist), Felix Li (Assistant Publicist).

About the Hilberry Theatre Company

Wayne State University’s Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance serves students as a nexus of performance, production, and research in the fields of dance, theatre, and performance studies. It provides a wide variety of degree programs that allow students the flexibility to study these disciplines broadly or to concentrate more specifically in performance, design, or management. The Hilberry Theatre hosts a professional theatre company that is staffed by graduate students and runs on a rotating repertory schedule.  Each academic year, graduate students receive assistantships to work for the Hilberry Theatre and study for advanced degrees. The company performs and produces an annual season of six plays, including high school matinees for nearly 6,000 students.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.