From the actors, to the director, to people behind the scene; The 39 Steps is a sizzling debut production from the newly formed Darien Arts Center Stage.
With the first performance of the wildly popular The 39 Steps about to hit the stage, director Donna McLaughlin Wyant reflects on what sets this production apart from other shows she has directed:
“The 39 Steps is a play that depends on a few very talented actors playing more than 150 different roles including train conductors, Nazi secret agents, lingerie salesmen, doddering politicians, police inspectors, and music hall acts, to name a few.
"I am grateful to my wonderful cast and crew, and the support and help of DAC Executive Director Amy Allen, and Executive Producer Dana Fead. They have been by my side as we made repairs, found wardrobe, uncovered props, fixed broken lights, and made other upgrades to the black box theatre allowing us to turn the lights back on in the DAC Weatherstone Studio on March 8th.”
Wyant has trained with Uta Hagen at the HB Studio in Manhattan, has performed professionally here and abroad, and has earned a CLIO, a Los Angeles EMMY, and a Grammy Certificate for her work as a composer.
Also a veteran to the stage, Geoffrey Gilbert, plays eight roles in the production and has a true affection for this debut from the Darien Arts Center Stage group.
“It has been a thrill to be reunited with actors I have known for years. It’s been great to see P.J. Morello and David Victor, and a pleasure to work with everyone involved. It’s a strong cast and well directed.”
Gilbert has been acting since the age of 15, and has toured professionally with The National Shakespeare Company, most notably playing Hamlet and Malvolio in Twelfth Night. By day, Gilbert works for the Town of Darien on midday shifts of building maintenance.
Behind the scenes, but just as important to the success of the show, are people like Kathy Alexander. In charge of set design and construction, Kathy is the magician behind the scenes, creating props that multi-task throughout the show.
“There is no real scenery, and everything is used as some kind of prop. Steamer trunks become beds, coffee tables, and even seats on a train.”
Kathy is the go to person that makes the details happen. She appreciates the creativity that she has been allowed to have with The 39 Steps.
“I love to work with my hands and build things. This production has really allowed me to tap into my creativity, and it has been quite a pleasurable experience to work with the Darien Arts Center Stage staff and crew.”
Kathy has worked on set design and construction in theater, national TV commercials, and short films.
Dana Fead, Executive Producer of The 39 Steps and Chair of DAC Stage, is a spark of enthusiasm behind the scenes. She cannot hide her excitement when she describes this show which has had an interesting evolution from a melodrama to a signature Hitchcock film to a hilarious farce.
“The production has more than 30 stage changes, 100 sound effects, and six actors that play over 100 roles. Some costume changes even take place in front of the audience, which only adds to the hilarity.”
The 39 Steps comes together to delight audiences of all ages. It is a two time Tony Award winning hit that is packed with nonstop laughs and was Broadway’s longest running comedy, with its 500th performance on Broadway, May 19, 2009.
The 39 Steps is sponsored by Dana Fead, SBD Kitchens, and Kleban Properties. Performances begin at 8pm on March 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23, and at 2 p.m. on March 10 and 17, and will take place in the Weatherstone Studio which is located behind the Darien Town Hall at 2 Renshaw Road in Darien, CT. Tickets can be purchased on the Darien Arts Center website, www.arts.darien.org, or by calling the box office at 203-655-5414. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $15 for students.
About the Darien Arts Center
Founded in 1975, the Darien Arts Center (DAC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing visual and performing arts programs and events for the community. The DAC offers educational programs in Dance, Visual Arts, Music and Theatre, as well as special events and live theatre performances by DAC Stage. The organization is funded by private donations, grants, tuition fees and ticket sales. For further information, call (203) 655-8683 or visit www.arts.darien.org.