Monday, February 15, 2010

Parker Playhouse: The 39 Steps (5 reviews)

The national tour of The 39 Steps opened at the Parker Playhouse on February 10, 2010.
Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have...(mystery chords!) THE 39 STEPS, Broadway's most intriguing, most thrilling, most riotous, most UNMISSABLE comedy smash! The mind-blowing cast of 4 plays over 150 characters in this fast-paced tale of an ordinary man on an extraordinarily entertaining adventure.
Maria Aitken directed a cast that features Claire Brownell, Ted Deasy, Eric Hissom, and Scott Parkinson.

Michael Martin reviewed for
Under the shrewd direction of Maria Aitken, and with the Tony Award winning lighting and sound design by Kevin Adams and Mic Pool respectively, four exceptional thespians ply their crafts in an almost Forbidden Broadway-esque atmosphere.
The choreography of the quick scene, costume, and character changes parallels many a dynamic ballet, and truly inspires awe.
The central focus and deserved spotlight belongs to the adroit direction by Aitken and four very adept actors who shine brilliantly upon the stage.
Mary Damiano reviewed for the South Florida Gay News:
Deasy is picture-perfect as a man on the run, whose dry wit shines through even when his life is in jeopardy. Brownell plays her three roles—as a femme fatale spy, a cowed farm wife and as a savvy partner in espionage—with aplomb. But as good as they are, the show belongs to Hissom and Parkinson. You never know how they’ll pull off their next quick change or who they’ll show up as next. Occasionally they’re just a sight gag, but more often than not they create a new character out of nowhere.
For a theatrical production, The 39 Steps is gloriously cinematic, with a lush score and inventive lighting by Kevin Adams and sound design by Mic Pool. The chase sequences are both action-packed and comical, including a thrilling chase across the top of a moving train and an hysterical flight through the Scottish countryside...
The 39 Steps is a don’t miss show, a real treat for both theatre lovers and movie lovers.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Under Maria Aitken’s direction, The 39 Steps thumbs its nose at the commercial theater’s penchant for spectacle, preferring instead to draw on the audience’s imagination...
Do not be concerned if you are unfamiliar with the film of The 39 Steps, for plot is not this show’s strong point and there is plenty of fun to be had enjoying the moment-to-moment jokes.... the performers are so deft that they hold our attention beyond the point of diminishing returns.
The central joke is that a movie like The 39 Steps cannot possibly be replicated live and contained on a stage. Fortunately, no one told adaptor Patrick Barlow or these four nimble, puckish actors.
Eileen Spiegler returns to review for the Herald; but she's been studying:
There's nothing subtle about this parody -- director Maria Aitken and writer Patrick Barlow are going for over the top, and it works often enough to forgive when it doesn't.
(Deasy) takes on the straight-man part with the perfect combo of derring do, Dudley Do-Right and a hint of rake. Claire Brownell does all the classics to full comic effect, going from femme fatale to ingénue to damsel in distress, replete with knuckle-biting and hand to forehead in a near swoon.
Eric Hissom and Scott Parkinson play all the other roles, including a few non-sentient parts, tossing hats and coats between them like a couple of circus performers, going from constable to conductor, salesmen to farmer, spy to villain, and a few ladies Brownell didn't get to. After that you'll probably lose track, but I doubt you'll mind -- these guys are amazing.
The Sun-Sentinel sent its fashion editor to write up the show:
The giggle-fest send-up of Hitchcock's oeuvre has one good trick, but it's a doozy: Four cast members play all of the characters through a whirlwind marathon of Velcro-aided quick changes, which ups the comedy into something approaching "Monty Python" on Red Bull.
...from the beginning the almost-gymnastic cast is hamming it up with such gusto you can smell the Honey-Baked all the way in the back row.
Ted Deasy plays square-jawed hero Richard Hannay with Tweed-ish dash ...Claire Brownell, ... performs (three) female roles with plenty of snap...
The real marvel of this tiny play... are Eric Hissom and Scott Parkinson, who play everyone else. This dynamic duo pop up as trenchcoated spies, train passengers, British bobbies, henchmen, Scottish innkeepers (hysterical), nefarious Nazis and wheezy politicians -- all played with Vaudeville zeal.
The 39 Steps camps it up at the Parker Playhouse through February 28.

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