Many casts in live shows are referred to as ensemble, but every once in a while you get a show that demonstrates the true meaning of what an ensemble cast is capable of.
"The 39 Steps" is that show.
Directed by Mark Shanahan, the George Street Playhouse's final show of the season is the stage adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's famous 1935 film, which was adapted from a 1915 novel, both of the same name.
Extremely fast paced and comedically over the top, the show tells the story of English chap Richard Hannay, played by Howard McGillin, who was previously seen at the Playhouse this season in the musical "It Shoulda Been You."
Set in London in 1935, Hannay, morose and bored with his life, goes to the theater, where he encounters the mysterious Annabella Schmidt.
With the firing of a gun, Hannay's life changes, starting off a chase through the United Kingdom in search of an answer to who, or what are The 39 Steps?
Joined by Stacie Morgain Lewis who plays Schmidt and Hannay's love interest, Pamela, the cast is rounded out by Mark Price and Michael Thomas Holmes, who have the simple titles of "Clown One" and "Clown Two".
Despite the comedic talents of McGillin and Lewis, it is Price and Holmes who keep the show's momentum running high. Both men play close to a dozen characters each, many in the same scenes, with the switch of a hat or accent.
The scenery for the show is as minimal as the number of cast members, always changing and consistently poking fun at itself. It adequately conveys the feeling of a bed and breakfast, a moving train or a grand theater. Make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for the Hitchcock references peppered throughout the show.
This ensemble of four keeps the show moving at an incredible speed, without the help of a stage crew, fancy effects, or gimmicks. And it's flawless.
Playhouse artistic director David Saint said the show closes out what is the George Street Playhouse's most successful season. It's a witty, lively and just plain fun show. With this cast and direction, it should be just as successful as its season predecessors.
"The 39 Steps" will be featured at the George Street Playhouse through May 20. Tickets are priced from $26.50, and are available via the George Street Playhouse website.
Additionally, the Playhouse is hosting several events to coincide with the show, including a director's conversation with Shanahan on May 5, a costume party with prizes before the May 12 performance, and a post-show party on May 17.
For more information on these events, click here.