New World Stages
340 West 50th St. between Eighth & Ninth Aves.
Through January 16, $69.50-$149.50
Half-price tickets available at TKTS booths and by using CODE TNAMIGO2 at box office, www.broadwayoffers.com, or 212-947-8844
While Julie Taymor’s massive extravaganza SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK is dazzling (and confounding) preview audiences and endangering cast members at the Foxwoods Theatre on Broadway, a very different kind of thriller is playing its final weeks nearby. Patrick Barlow’s Tony- and Drama Desk-winning THE 39 STEPS, directed by Maria Aitken, opened in June 2005 in England, moved to Broadway in January 2008, and then settled in for an extended run at New World Stages that comes to an end January 16. Based on John Buchan’s 1915 novel and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 classic film, the production slyly plays off of Broadway’s penchant for overinflated technical gadgetry by going deliberately low-tech, with tongue firmly planted in cheek. John Behlmann stars as Richard Hannay, an erudite individual falsely accused of murder and forced to head out on the run. Kate MacCluggage plays all three female roles, including the mysterious Annabella Schmidt, the beautiful blonde femme fatale Pamela, and the lonely farm wife Margaret. But the show is stolen by Jamie Jackson and Cameron Folmar, who together play more than one hundred parts, making costume changes that seem impossible as they whirl back and forth across the stage in record time. Cast and crew wonderfully handle chases, shootouts, and other action scenes in inventive, playfully simplistic ways, energized by large doses of good humor and plenty of knowing winks. And yes, Sir Alfred does indeed make an appearance. THE 39 STEPS is an engaging, ingeniously presented comedy thriller that will have you howling with laughter.
In conjunction with the show, the downstairs bar is serving such special cocktails as the 39 Sips, the Vertigo, the Femme Fatale, the McGuffin, and the Hitchcock, which can all be savored inside the theater. And the December 15 evening performance will be followed by a talkback with screenwriter Steven DeRosa, author of WRITING WITH HITCHCOCK.