The 39 Steps (play)

The 39 Steps (play)

Infobox Play
name = The 39 Steps

image_size =
caption = Original Poster
writer = Patrick Barlow
chorus =
characters = Richard Hanney, Woman, Man 1, Man 2
mute =
setting = 1930s England/Scotland
date of premiere = 17 June 2005 (West Yorkshire)
country of Origin = United Kingdom
original language = English
series =
subject =
genre = Comedy/Parody
awards = Olivier Award for Best New Comedy
Tony Award for Best Lighting Design
Tony Award for Best Sound Design
web =
playbill_event =
ibdb_id = 469215

"The 39 Steps" is a play adapted from the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock. Patrick Barlow wrote the adaptation, based on the original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon of a two-actor version of the play. Barlow had originally intended to portray the character of Richard Hannay, but focused solely on rewriting the original version.cite news | author=Joel Brown | title=4 actors, 150 roles add up to "39 Steps" | url= | work=Boston Globe | date=16 September 2007 | accessdate=2008-04-04]

Production History

The first version of the play, with a cast of four actors, premiered in June 2005 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, [cite news | author=Kate Bassett | title="The 39 Steps", West Yorkshire, Playhouse, Leeds | url= | work=The Independent | date=3 July 2005 | accessdate=2008-04-04] [cite news | author=Sam Marlowe | title=The 39 Steps | url= | work=The Times | date=18 August 2006 | accessdate=2008-03-30] directed by Fiona Buffini. cite news | author=Jasper Rees | title=The 39 Steps from Leeds to Broadway | url= | work=Telegraph | date=18 August 2007 | accessdate=2008-03-30] The featured actors were Robert Whitelock, Lisa Jackson, Simon Gregor and Mark Hadfield. [cite news | author=Lynne Walker | title="The 39 Steps", West Yorkshire, Playhouse, Leeds | url= | work=The Independent | date=11 July 2005 | accessdate=2008-04-04] Maria Aitken directed the revised production in its London premiere at the Tricycle Theatre (London) [cite news | author=Dominic Cavendish | title=Irreverent romp down the nostalgia track | url= | work=Telegraph | date=18 August 2006 | accessdate=2008-03-30] , which opened on 10 August 2006 titled "John Buchan’s The 39 Steps".cite news | author=Ben Brantley | title=Spies, Blonde and a Guy Go North by Northwest | url= | work=The New York Times | date=16 January 2008 | accessdate=2008-03-30] The cast for the London premiere comprised Rupert Degas, Charles Edwards, Simon Gregor and Catherine McCormack. The production transferred to the Criterion Theatre in London's West End in September 2006. [cite news | author=Brian Logan | title=The 39 Steps (Criterion, London) | url=,,1880605,00.html | work=The Guardian | date=23 September 2006 | accessdate=2008-03-30]

USA Premiere

The play had its U.S. premiere at the Huntington Theatre (Boston) on September 19 2007. [cite news | author=Louise Kennedy | title=Hitch a ride | url= | work=Boston Globe | date=21 September 2007 | accessdate=2008-04-04] Titled "Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps", it opened in New York City on Broadway in a Roundabout Theatre production at the American Airlines Theatre, with previews beginning 4 January 2008 and the official first night on 15 January 2008. The initial run concluded on 29 March 2008, and transferred to the Cort Theatre as of April 29, 2008. Aitken also directed the USA productions, and Edwards transferred to the USA productions as Richard Hannay, the only actor from the UK cast to do so. The other actors in the premiere US productions are Jennifer Ferrin, Arnie Burton and Cliff Saunders. Edwards concluded his run in the show on 6 July 2008, and Sam Robards has taken over the role of Richard Hannay. [cite news | author=Robert Simonson | title=Charles in Charge | url= | work=Playbill | date=4 June 2008 | accessdate=2008-06-14] [cite news | author=Kenneth Jones | title=Sam Robards Is the Next Pursued Man of Broadway's "39 Steps" | url= | work=Playbill | date=4 June 2008 | accessdate=2008-06-14] It is one of only three Broadway plays, including "Boeing Boeing" & "", currently enjoying an open ended run.


The play won the Olivier Award for "Best Comedy in 2007" and the What's On Stage Award for "Best Comedy 2007".

The 2008 Roundabout Broadway production won the 2008 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience and Outstanding Lighting Design (Kevin Adams). It won two Tony Awards on June 15 2008 for Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design. It was nominated for four other Tonys: Best Play, Best Direction of a Play (Maria Aitken), Best Scenic Design of a Play (Peter McKintosh) and Best Costume Design of a Play (Peter McKintosh).

Film References & Production Notes

The play shares the plot and characters with the film. However, the play is a more comic treatment of the story, in the style of Monty Python and Barlow's own National Theatre of Brent, [cite news | author=Paul Taylor | title="The 39 Steps", Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn, London | url= | work=The Independent | date=15 August 2006 | accessdate=2008-04-06] compared to the original and more serious film. The play incorporates references and use of music excerpts from other Hitchcock films. As well, the cast of 4 actors portrays between 100 and 150 roles, including actors doubling parts within the same scene. The part of Richard Hannay is the only one where the actor does not double in another role in the play.



*2005, Leeds - West Yorkshire Playhouse
*2006, London - Tricycle Theatre
*2006, London West End - Criterion Theatre
*2007, Boston - Huntington Theatre
*2008, Windsor - Windsor Theatre
*2008, New York City, Broadway - American Airlines Theatre, Cort Theatre
*2008, Melbourne - The Playhouse Theatre
*2008, Aachen - Grenzlandttheater, first performance in German
*2008, Tel Aviv - Habima Theatre, in Hebrew

Current West End Cast

As of August 2008, the London West End cast is as follows:
* Nigel Betts - Man
* Josefina Gabrielle - Annabella Schmidt / Pamela / Margaret
* Alan Perrin - Man
* Jo Stone-Fewings - Richard Hannay

###@@@KEY@@@###succession box
title = Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy
years = 2007
before= "Heroes"
after = "Rafta Rafta"
succession box
title = Tony Award for Best Sound Design
years = 2008
before= New Award
after = TBA
succession box
title = Tony Award for Best Lighting Design
years = 2008
before= "The Coast of Utopia"
after = TBA


External links

* [ Official home page of the play]
* [ Internet Broadway Database listing]
* [ Broadway website]

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