Summer at Hedgerow Theatre has come to mean it’s time for a farce, and this year is no exception. The tradition of sublime silliness continues with The 39 Steps, Patrick Barlow’s Tony Award-winning spoof of the Alfred Hitchcock film that was deemed “absurdly enjoyable” by The New York Times. It opens with a preview on Thursday, July 10, and runs through August 17.
Anyone familiar only with Hitchcock’s 1935 classic, based on a 1915 novel by John Buchan, may wonder how this spy thriller can be a farce. Barlow’s brilliant 2005 adaptation follows the same basic plot about a man falsely accused of murder who has to expose an international espionage ring to prove his innocence. The difference here is that one actor plays the hero, Richard Hannay, while all of the more than 150 zany people he encounters on his quest are portrayed by just three actors, making lightning-fast costume changes. It’s all played for laughs, while also fondly alluding to many other of Hitchcock’s films.
Hannay is played by Hedgerow newcomer Matt Tallman, who holds an MFA from Southern Methodist University and has performed both locally and around the U.S., including the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Fourth-year company member Rebecca Cureton, who has appeared in the previous three summer farces, plays the three major female roles. They’re joined by Joel Guerrero and Andrew Parcell, who portray a multitude of characters. Both are experienced in playing multiple parts. Guerrero did just that early this year in The Mystery of Irma Vep and Parcell had five roles in Sense and Sensibility.
They’re directed by Damon Bonetti, cofounder of the Philadelphia Artists Collective. He’s acted previously at Hedgerow, this is his directorial debut here. He has the rare perspective of knowing the lead role well, having recently played Hannay at Theatre Horizon in Norristown.
“Farce is one of the things we do best at Hedgerow,” said Executive Director Penelope Reed. “We love doing them and we wanted to expand people’s awareness of the other marvelous plays in the genre and provide an opportunity for our actors to perform in works by a wider range of playwrights. Farce is all about characters finding themselves in highly improbable situations, usually in trouble, having to behave as if it’s all quite possible, and The 39 Steps fills the bill.”
“We chose The 39 Steps because of the nature of the play itself,” Artistic Director Jared Reed added.” “It’s a perfect company show, where four fantastic actors create more than 150 characters in 90 minutes. We bring together three longtime Hedgerow players with a talented new actor and director, making something spectacular happen.”
On Wednesday, July 9, the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Charity Night and the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Wyncote Way Welcome Center, sponsored by Republic Bank and Servicemaster. The $10 admission to the final dress rehearsal and all other proceeds will go to the Crozer Cancer Project Team at the Crozer Regional Cancer Center.
Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows are $34; Thursday shows are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for 30 and under are $20; for students with valid ID they are $15. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).