adapted by Patrick Barlow
from the movie by Alfred Hichcock
from the novel by John Buchan
directed by Deborah Gilmour Smyth
Featuring David Humphry, Kelsey Venter, Jesse Abeel and Robert Smyth
"CRITIC'S CHOICE!" James Hebert, U-T San Diego
“BEST BET!” Pat Launer, KSDS
“HILARIOUS!” Jenny Prisk, JPReviews
“JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED!” Carol Davis, examiner.com
“DON’T MISS IT!” Alexander Rosa, Art ROCKS 247
“SILLY? YES. FUN? OH, YES INDEED!” Jean Lowerison, SDGLN
Running Time: just over 2 hours including one Intermission
Age Appropriateness: THE 39 STEPS is recommended for ages 10 and up
Location: HORTON GRAND THEATRE
444 Fourth Ave (between Island and J St), in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter
David S. Humphrey
Credits include, National Tour: Forever Plaid and Plaid Tidings. Regional Theatre San Diego County: MIXTAPE, Festival of Christmas - Northern Lights, Les Miserables, The 39 Steps,The Foreigner, Boomers, Secret Garden, Into The Woods, South Pacific, 1776, and Cotton Patch Gospel with Lambs Players Theatre; Return to the Forbidden Planet with NVA; Oklahoma, Forever Plaid, Plaid Tidings with The Welk Resort; Bleeding Kansas with Moxie Theatre; Guys and Dolls with Moonlight Amphitheatre; A Little Night Music, Invention of Love with Cygnet Theatre; Tom Foolery with NCRT/Renaissance Theatre; 1776, I Love You You're Perfect…, Forever Plaid with San Diego CLO; Plaid Tidings with Broadway/San Diego; Forever Plaid with The Theatre in Old Town. Regional Theatre LA/Riverside County: Forever Plaid with CLO South Bay (Ovation Nomination); Plaid Tidings with La Mirada (Ovation Nomination); 1776 with Performance Riverside (Ovation Nomination). David is the original voice of Shadow the Hedgehog for the Sonic the Hedgehog video games with the Sega Corp., and the voice of Jack Keane for the action/adventure pc game Jack Keane. David is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association since 1998.
is LAMB's Producing Artistic Director. He joined the staff of Lamb's Players Street Theatre as an actor and director in 1976. In 1978 LAMB'S opened its first resident theatre in National City, and then in 1994 brought the old performance space in Coronado's historic Spreckel's Building back to life as its new home. Robert has directed more than 150 productions for LAMB'S, and performed in over 100, including favorite roles in A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1776, Cyrano De Bergerac, The Boys Next Door, and the one-man show Damien. He and his wife, director, actor, composer, Deborah Gilmour Smyth, make their home in Coronado.
Annabella / Pamela / Margaret
Kelsey Venter is a Lamb's Associate Artist who was last seen as Anne Sullivan in The Miracle Worker. Past Lamb’s productions include Les Miserables (Fantine), The 39 Steps (Annabella/Margaret/Pamela), Trying (Sarah) and Guys and Dolls (Sarah Brown), as well as being one of the core 20 in Lamb’s Guinness World Record Breaking 100 Hours of Stories. Other regional credits include Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play (Maria/Itchy) in a co-production with the American Conservatory Theater and the Guthrie Theater; The Last Five Years (Cathy cover), Love and Information (female u/s), Monstress (Althea), ‘Tis Pity She's a Whore (Philotis) and A Christmas Carol (Martha Cratchit, Ghost of Christmas Past) with the American Conservatory Theater; Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Mama Who) and Sense & Sensibility (Fanny u/s) at The Old Globe Theater; I Love You Because (Marcy) at North Coast Rep; Timepiece (Andrea) with The Active Theater; Oliver! (Nancy) at Woodminster Amphitheater; She Loves Me (Amalia) and Boeing-Boeing (Gloria) at CenterREP; The Threepenny Opera (Polly Peachum) and Seagull In The Hamptons (Nina) with Shotgun Players. Venter earned her BA in Theatre from San Diego State University and her MFA in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater. www.kelseyventer.com
Patrick J. Duffy
Patrick was last seen as Bernado in West Side Story here, and his other favorite roles have been MacDuff in Macbeth at Intrepid, and Hyde in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Ion. Other stage credits here at Lamb's include Pete N Keely, The Book of the Dun Cow, Smoke on the Mountain ‘04 & ‘10, Festival of Christmas ‘08, The Voysey Inheritance, An Ideal Husband, Cold Comfort Farm, South Pacific, and Rehearsal for Murder (which he also stage managed and sound designed). He recently won the Craig Noel "Outstanding Sound Design" award for Les Misérables, and his other sound credits here are MIXTAPE, Fiddler on the Roof, Pump Boys & Dinettes, Godspell, Boomers, The Fantasticks, The Light in the Piazza, Joseph ‘07 and ‘15, American Rhythm ‘06 at the Lyceum, The Secret Garden, and Enchanted April. When not on stage or designing, he can be found building sets or as Lamb’s Audio Master. Patrick is thankful for all His blessings in his life, and wishes you the same. Thanks for coming by, enjoy!
US - Annabella/Pamela/Margaret
Caitie is a staff member at Lamb's Players, and has performed in over 25 Lamb's productions since 2010. LPT favorites include Equivocation, Twelfth Night, Fiddler on the Roof, American Rhythm, Quilters, Wit, Oz, Les Miserables, Mixtape, Joseph..., The Book of the Dun Cow, The Glory Man, and "100 Hours of Stories", the play reading marathon that won Lamb's Players Theatre a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Caitie has also appeared at Cygnet Theatre as Rose Fenny in Dogfight, and participated in Cygnet's staged readings of Hair, Side by Side by Sondheim, and Evita. Caitie received her BFA from The Boston Conservatory and is a proud member of Actors Equity. All my love to Charlie.
Costume design credits for Lamb's Player's Theatre include: Mixtape, Hip Pocket for LPT's educational outreach touring show, Trying, See How They Run, The 39 Steps, You Can't Take it With You, Festival of Christmas "All I want for Christmas..."and co-costume design of The Foreigner and Festival of Christmas "Northern Lights". Costume design credits at other venues include: All This and Moonlight, and An Inspector Calls at Scripps Ranch Theater, Old Wicked Songs and Talley's Folly at North Coast Rep, and Side Man for Bang! Productions. Jemima has worked at Lamb's for 10 years in the costume department as seamstress, a cutter/pattern maker, and assistant to Jeanne Reith, she has also worked backstage as Assistant Stage Manager on Boomers and Godspell. She has been featured in 944 magazine, The Social Diary, and ArtPulse TV. Jemima would like to thank her wonderful husband Jeff and their daughters Amelia & Charlotte
Deborah Gilmour Smyth
Associate Artistic Director and director of Patron Services, Deborah has been a member of the Lamb’s resident ensemble since 1979 . Originally from the East Coast, she has lived all over the United States and went to school at San Francisco State University where she studied music and theatre. One of San Diego’s most active performers with over 200 productions to her credit, she is a six-time recipient of the San Diego Theatre Critics’ Circle’s Craig Noel Award including Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play for Lamb’s 2013 production of Wit and Outstanding Female Performance in a Musical for her performance as Mother in Ragtime at Starlight Musical Theatre, for her role of Margaret Johnson in The Light in the Piazza at Lamb’s Players, and for her role of Mrs. Lovett at Cygnet Theatre. She has been honored with Backstage West and numerous Patte awards for performance, original music, sound design. At Lamb’s Players Deborah has performed in over 160 productions, directed over 70 productions, sound designed, written original music, or musically directed over 80 productions. Deborah enjoys the opportunity to be involved in an amazing ensemble that is the Lamb’s Players family. Deborah and her husband, Producing Artistic Director Robert Smyth, make their home in Coronado.
Set and Props Designer
Michael is an avid Painter, Sculptor, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Videographer and "maker of things." In San Diego theaters, he's worked as a Scenic Designer/Builder, Scenic Artist, Properties Designer, Multimedia/Video Designer and Technician and Stage Manager for numerous productions and special events. Some favorites: Killer Joe (SDTCC Craig Noel Award - Compass); SideMan (Diversionary); Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella (StageHouse); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Intrepid Theatre); For Lambs: Mixtape, Trying (SDTCC Nomination), Joe vs. The Volcano (SDTCC Nomination), 39 Steps. Thanks to all! Check out his work at MichaelMcKeon.com
a graduate of Biola University, Nate is Lamb’s Director of Production. He has been with Lamb’s since 1982 working as photographer, set construction, lighting designer and performer.
Some careful sleuthing has revealed that the two ladders featured prominently in Lamb’s Players Theatre’s “The 39 Steps” contain a total of ... 44 steps!
Those ladders, it’s true, have about as much to do with the play’s title as “The 39 Steps” has to do (at least in terms of tone) with the novel and film on which it’s based. Still, they serve as a handy symbol of how this snappy, laugh-filled and smashingly acted little show just keeps on over delivering.
Patrick Barlow’s adaptation retains the essential story from John Buchan’s 1915 novel, best-known for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1935 spy thriller. But in this version, four actors play all the parts — and sometimes several in the space of a few moments. The piece also gets maximum mileage from deliberately minimal staging elements, with handheld picture frames as windows, a set of trunks as the interior (and then the roof) of a train, and those ladders as the spindly legs of a railroad bridge.
With its winks at the makeshift artifice of it all (at one point the actors wait impatiently for the belated sound cue of a ringing phone), the piece becomes a knowing ode to the elemental, seat-of-the-pants daring of theater.
All that, and wacky Scottish accents, too.
It all begins when the dashing bachelor Richard Hannay (David S. Humphrey) gets mixed up in the seeming paranoia of a vampy German mystery woman named Annabella (Kelsey Venter), whom he meets at a London theater.
When she turns up murdered in Hannay’s apartment after revealing fragments of an espionage plot (the versatile Venter is a comic wonder in this and scads of other scenes), he goes on the run, seeking to uncover secrets in a remote Scottish town.
His main obstacles are a series of cops, fops and country bumpkins played masterfully by Robert Smyth, the theater’s producing artistic director, and Jesse Abeel, a Lamb’s regular (and a regular chameleon). Billed as Clown 1 and Clown 2, they handle the brunt of the play’s many quick changes — not just costumes but accents and, for Abeel, genders.
While Humphrey has the seeming luxury of playing just one role, he’s onstage nearly the entire time, and brings just the right mix of earnestness and urbane bemusement to this smartly silly show.
Deborah Gilmour Smyth’s ace direction is boosted by her own, witty sound design, as well as Jemima Dutra’s savvy costuming, Nathan Peirson’s sharp lighting and Michael McKeon’s resourceful sets and props.
Like Hitchcock himself, who is referenced shamelessly (and amusingly) throughout THE 39 STEPS this show has one singular profile. "
James Hebert - U-T San Diego
THE 39 STEPS is a deliciously hilarious mashup of Hitchcock movie titles that turns a film landmark into a crazy-quilt acting tour de force for four performers playing 40 roles.
It’s a tremendous feat, getting the comedy, the timing and the split-second costume changes just right. You need a superb and comically gifted cast, a stellar crew and a skillful director to mastermind the magic. Lamb’s Players Theatre has it all, and then-some.
Deborah Gilmour Smyth helms an extraordinary ensemble, centered by handsome David S. Humphrey as the hapless Richard Hannay, sitting in his London flat and bemoaning his boring fate. Before he can say Alfred Hitchcock, there’s an attractive young woman slumped across his lap with a knife in her back. He’s accused of murder and on the run… trying to out-smart the short-fingered vulgarian who’s trying to smuggle information out of the country, something involving the mysterious 39 Steps.
Solving the mystery is not half as engaging as the riotous stage business that gets us there: quick-change accents, genders and outfits - as the action sprints from London to Scotland, from bouncing and hiding in trains to hanging off the aforementioned bridge. Hannay’s unwilling partner in crime, hooked to him by handcuffs, is delightfully portrayed by Kelsey Venter, who’s also the first-scene spy and a sex-starved farm-wife. Then there’s Jesse Abeel and Robert Smyth, who play all the other eccentrics, male and female, intelligible or not. The props and costumes, musical interludes and pacing are terrific. This may not be Hitchcock, but it certainly isn’t for The Birds! "
Pat Launer - KSDS
"Alfred Hitchcock meets Monty Python in Lamb’s uproarious romp. If you saw The 39 Steps at La Jolla Playhouse, this is not the same production. This is sharper, funnier and faster! A superb cast lead by dashing David S. Humphrey as the central figure Richard Hannay, trying to escape a murder he didn’t commit, will leave you breathless with their fine stage frolics. Go and see this hilarious production and treat yourself to some summer fun!"
Jenni Prisk - Jenni Prisk Reviews
"THE 39 STEPS is a hysterical tale of murder and intrigue parodied from the Hitchcock movie of the same title. Four actors play a multitude of parts on the sparsest of stages with terrific comic timing. If you are too young to know who Hitchcock was, you’ll miss a lot of the tongue-in-cheek references to his movies, but it won’t matter because you’ll still be laughing. Kudos to a great cast that simply nailed it with their quick changes, challenging accents, and physical contortions.
In typical fashion, Lamb’s has a winner in this production. Don’t miss it!” "
Alexandra Rosa - Art ROCKS 247
Except for two tall, A-frame ladders, two small balconies, and a solitary light bulb, the stage for Lamb’s Players is bare. Even the coal-black rear wall is exposed. Take away the balconies and Michael McKeon’s set would have all the minimalist makings for a production of Our Town. Instead, as McKeon’s props zoom on and off and four actors perform The 39 Steps in a pace as up-tempo — nay, madcap — as Our Town is stately.
In Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie (1935), Richard Hannay is caught in a web of international intrigue. He flees in trains and cars and dashes hither and yon, maybe 39 steps per second, as all manner of constabularies, 38½ steps behind, chomp at his heels.
The Lamb’s show, brisk and beautifully timed, is goofy fun. David S. Humphrey (Hannay), Kelsey Venter, Jesse Abeel, and Robert Smyth sprint through blink-of-an-eye mini-scenes and costume changes. They don coats, hats, wigs (costumes by Jemima Dutra, piles of puffy hair by Coni), speak in various accents, and, often stacked with enough clothing for a Scottish winter, contort through tiny windowpanes and fences — at one point handcuffed, which Humphrey and Venter turn into a hilarious bit of fractured logic. "
Jeff Smith - SD Reader
"With all the critical drooling over the oeuvre of Alfred Hitchcock, it’s nice to know that the master of suspense can still be played for laughs.
THE 39 STEPS is a quick-change send-up played by a cast of only four that’s reliant upon unrestrained physical comedy, unashamedly obvious allusions (visual, verbal and musical) to other Hitchcock films and a vaudevillian, devil-may-care attitude.
The man-on-the-run espionage story, meanwhile, never stands a chance against the antics of the inexhaustible ensemble. David S. Humphrey is an elastic-limbed Richard Hannay, the wrongly accused hero, while Kelsey Venter tackles three roles, including the blonde Pamela who helps Richard clear his name. But three parts seems like child’s play compared with the load Robert Smyth (Lamb’s artistic director) and Jesse Abeel carry. Between the two, they portray policemen, innkeepers, innkeepers’ wives, foreign spies—even, in Abeel’s case, the moss, peat and shrubs of a Scottish bog. Smyth’s and Abeel’s lightning-fast changes of costumes and characters are more fun than the Hitchcock bits, which are easy snippets of parody.
Humphrey and Venter’s finest moment arrives in Act 2, when they’re handcuffed together. They pull off awkward twists, turns and grimaces that would make Lucy and Desi, who had at this shtick on TV eons ago, proud.
Truly impressive is how Lamb’s stages a man-on-the-run story with nothing more than props and body language. But after managing Around the World in 80 Days, as the theater did last year, the British Isles must have felt like a breather. "
David L. Coddon - CITYBEAT
"Anyone sitting thru this fast and frantic little romp that doesn’t feel the urgent need to laugh, or at least smile is in the wrong theatre!
With the combined efforts of four actors, set and properties designer Michael McKeon, lighting designer Nathan Peirson and costume designer Jemima Dutra, a perfect storm unfolds. Director Deborah Smyth and company have used every trick of the trade imaginable and available to them.
The production is fun, silly and well, just what the doctor ordered for and end of summer frolic! "
Carol Davis - examiner.com
"A man mistaken for a murderer goes on the run in “The 39 Steps,” a wildly inventive, nonstop homage to and satire of both the Hitchcock film of the same name and the great man himself.
This play depends on physical comedy, props like hats and the ability to switch accents – as well as costumes – on a dime. Characters cross and double-cross each other, furniture appears out of nowhere; the audience gets to imagine characters jumping out a train window, hoisting hand over hand to the point where they can clamber up onto the top of the train.
Silly? Yes. Fun? Oh, yes indeed!
Jean Lowerison - SDGLN
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A Wild Ride Through a Hitchcock Classic!
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