Monday, May 16, 2011

Actors' Playhouse: The 39 Steps (4 reviews)

Actors' Playhouse opened Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps on May 11, 2011, a co-production with The Orlando Shakespeare Festival and The Florida Repertory Company.
This new play mixes a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel and adds a dash of Monty Python to give you a fast-paced, whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre. The 39 Steps is packed with hilarity: a cast of four ridiculously-talented actors playing over 150 zany characters, an on-stage plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers, some good old-fashioned romance and nonstop laughter!
Jim Helsinger directed a cast that included Michael Frederic, Brad DePlanche, Brandon Roberts, and Deanna Gibson.

Mia Leonin reviewed "special to" The Miami Herald:
A few minutes into The 39 Steps, at the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, you know you’re in for a very funny send-up of the classic spy-film genre.
With skill and spunk, Brad Deplanche and Brandon Roberts morph into policemen, train conductors, thugs, and farmwives at breakneck speed, creating a Keystone Kops sense of mayhem as they race around the stage, literally changing hats and accents at every turn. Frequently evoking the bawdy humor of the late Benny Hill, Deplanche is exceptionally funny.

Gibson and Frederic are also excellent. Their droll humor and spot-on comedic timing reminded me of Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman in the old Carol Burnett Show skits.
Jim Helsinger’s direction is impeccable, but at 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission, The 39 Steps does feel a bit long, and could, perhaps, be trimmed without losing its comic punch.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
If you like your humor broad, silly, and wildly imaginative, hurry on down to Actors' Playhouse and catch the hilarious The 39 Steps.
...Brad Deplanche and Brandon Roberts zoom through over 150 characters.  That's what the PR says, but I couldn't keep count.  Too fast and funny.
This is a play with outlandish accents, jokes, puns and wonderful performances.  Forgive me if I sound like a flack here, but it's just so damn gratifying to go to the theatre and see a piece that really is all you'd hoped it would be.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
Leading man Michael Frederic is made the straight man by default. He ably carries the pacing forward. Deanna Gibson is more gal pal than vixen in most of her characters, but jumps on board the comic moments whenever possible. The show really belongs to Brad DePlanche and Brandon Roberts who play dozens of characters, handling the fast changes, assorted props, and ever-changing accents without a hitch.

Good staging and lighting really are key in assisting the two actors always hitting their mark for quick deliveries before moving on. Actors' Playhouse uses the smaller upstairs theatre well to achieve this.

The production is entertaining as both a theatre piece and an actor's exercise. Lovers of film noir and Hitchcock will get a kick out of the cinematic references and style of The 39 Steps as well. The production is just good, simple fun.
Chris Joseph reviewed for The Miami New Times:
Adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow, and directed by Jim Helsinger, a talented four-member cast playing 150 different characters delivered a satisfyingly witty and fast-paced version of one of Alfred Hitchcock'sfirst masterpieces at last night's Actors' Playhouse opening productionof The 39 Steps.
Brad Deplanche and Brandon Roberts, who play the majority of the roles, perform their comedy-relief roles with skilled precision, donning wigs and hats and leaping through wardrobe changes seemingly at the blink of an eye.
Deanna Gibson delivers a stand out performance... Michael Frederic makes a hilarious straight man as Richard Hannay. He seems straight out of an old 1930's British film, with his pencil thin mustache, halting way of speaking, cocked eyebrow and proper English chap demeanor.
The 39 Steps is a kinetic comedy driven by great performances, split-second wardrobe changes, and inventive stagecraft, and it's a unique and enjoyable way of experiencing one of Hitch's all-time classics.
The 39 Steps plays at Actors' Playhouse through June 5, 2011.

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