Tuesday, October 11, 2011
DALLAS -- Theater Outreach, a Salem-based live theater troupe, is bringing its production of "The 39 Steps" to Dallas High School's Bollman Auditorium on Sunday, Oct. 16.
The play, in town for one afternoon show, is based on the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. But audiences will notice a distinctly different tone from the 1935 thriller.
The play is a comedic homage essentially, using the same script and plot twists in Hitchcock's murder mystery, said Director David Berrier.
But it uses only four actors -- a man to play the main character, Richard Hannay, a woman who plays all three female leads, and two actors who portray every other character in the production.
Having to play 40 of the 44 parts in the production, those two actors undergo a whirlwind of costume and character changes between scenes and depend heavily on the back stage crew.
Berrier is one of the two actors with a serious case of multiple personalities.
"We have to change from a man to a woman and back to a man," Berrier said. "If it wasn't for (the crew), we couldn't do the show."
Berrier said he and fellow actor Jesse Whitehead have to employ lightening-fast costume changes, voices and accents to make the play believable. For Berrier, that's the challenge and fun of "The 39 Steps" and what gives the play its laugh-out-loud moments.
"It's an over-the-top -- almost slapstick -- fun comedy," Berrier said.
It's still a mystery, though, that finds Hannay suspected of murder when a woman he just met is stabbed in his London apartment. He has to race against time -- and even travel to Scotland -- in an attempt to prove he is not the killer.
Theater Outreach formed as a nonprofit in 2009, providing technical assistance to local theater groups. In 2010 Berrier launched Kroc Theater at Salem's Kroc Center. Financial difficulties at the center cut funding for the troupe after just six shows. Berrier and the troupe decided, rather than close down entirely, they would expand Theater Outreach's mission to producing plays.
They found a home base using Chemeketa Community College's auditorium stage after the performing arts program at the school was eliminated.
Truly living up to its name, Theater Outreach takes it shows on the road, a tradition started under Kroc Theater.
"We are a nonprofit organization promoting live theater everywhere we go," Berrier said.
Theater Outreach began its run of "The 39 Steps," on Friday, Sept. 30, and will perform its final three shows in Mill City, Silverton and Dallas.
"The 30 Steps."
Dallas High School, Bollman Auditorium, 1250 SE Holman Ave.
Sunday, Oct. 16, at 3 p.m.
$10 for adults and $6 for students. Advance tickets can be purchased at www.theateroutreach.org or at the door the day of the performance.
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