THE 39 STEPS

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Only Four Actors….But HOW Many Different Costumes?????

Only Four Actors….But HOW Many Different Costumes?????

Joanne Cunningham, Costume Designer

It should come as no surprise that to design costumes for a large musical takes a great deal of time. With 30+ people in a cast, and with each person probably requiring multiple costumes, a costume designer’s organizational skills are really put to the test when the upcoming show is a large one.

This is why it is a nice break to occasionally do a small show, one with only a few actors. After all, how hard can it be to costume just a handful of people?

Well….sometimes it’s not all that easy, especially when those few actors are playing a dizzying number of roles. Such is the case in Sunset Playhouse’s upcoming production, 39 STEPS.

When I offered to design this play, I assumed that having only four actors to costume would be a breeze, especially since lately I have been doing exceedingly large and complicated shows. Let’s just say that my assumptions were slightly incorrect. Between these four tremendously talented actors, no fewer than 28 different people are portrayed…and each one needs to be costumed in such a way that the audience will be able to differentiate between them and recognize them each time they appear on stage.

Many of the character and costumes changes are exceedingly quick and happen on stage, so some costumes need to be rigged for easy on/easy off changes. Do you really think that jacket is buttoned? If I’ve done my job well, it will appear so. The reality, of course, is that I am giving my utmost thanks to the inventor of Velcro, a costume designer’s greatest tool. It comes in mighty handy in a show such as this one!

hats-39 steps

In order to make sure the actors know which costumes to wear at which times, designers usually prepare a costume plot. This is a scene-by-scene listing of who is on stage and what, exactly, they should be wearing. Costume plots often resemble large spreadsheets. An actor can follow his or her costume changes across the page, using this as a roadmap to make sure that all needed pieces are pre-set in places where they can be easily accessed during the play. In ONE memorable scene in 39 STEPS, two of the actors change roles more than a dozen times. Needless to say, that’s one complicated costume plot!

Be sure to make a date to come and see THE 39 STEPS…and see if you can keep track of all the costume changes. I’m certainly hoping that the actors will manage to remember what they are wearing when!

 

Why not Audition for THE 39 STEPS?

Looking for something fun to do this spring?  Why not Audition for THE 39 STEPS?  This hilarious show features non-stop action and will be directed by Diana Alioto.   We are looking for a great cast and crew for this exciting show.  Auditions will consist of readings from the script.  Scripts are available to check out for a cash or check deposit prior to auditions.   Auditioners will be asked to fill out an Audition Information Sheet prior to auditions; one may fill this out the night of the auditions or ahead of time by downloading the THE 39 STEPS Audition Form.

Here are the dates of the auditions and information about the show:

Auditions: March 2 – March 3, 2015 (7-10 pm)*

Callbacks: Wednesday, March 4, 2015 (if necessary)
Rehearsals:  March 16 – April 22, 2015**

Performances: April 23 – May 10, 2015

SYNOPSIS of THE 39 STEPS:

Hitchcock meets hilarious as Englishman Richard Hannay encounters dastardly murders, double-crossing secret agents and devastatingly beautiful women in this fast-paced whodunit.  Part espionage thriller and part slapstick comedy, four actors play over 150 characters in this ingeniously adapted homage to film noir and theatrical stagecraft.

 CAST OF CHARACTERS

All the roles in the play are performed by four actors. One plays Richard Hannay; a female plays the three women in the play; and two “clowns” play every other character, including heroes, villains, men, women, children, and even the occasional inanimate object. The following is only a partial list of those many characters.

Richard Hannay: A dapper English gentleman, Richard Hannay is bored until Annabella Schmidt comes into his life and starts him on a heroic and hilarious journey.

The Woman:
  • Annabella Schmidt: An exotic secret agent, Annabella Schmidt is in dire need of Hannay’s help.
  • Pamela: A beautiful woman, Pamela is lured into Hannay’s adventure but is skeptical of his claims of innocence.
  • Margaret: The wife of Crofter the farmer, Margaret is a shy young woman who dreams of life and adventure in the city.
The Two Clowns:
  • Crofter: A deeply jealous and suspicious Scottish farmer, Crofter houses Hannay for a night while he is on the run.
  • Mr. Memory: A stage performer, Mr. Memory has the ability to recall thousands of facts on command.
  • Professor Jordan: Surrounded in mystery, Professor Jordan may hold the key to learning what and who “The 39 Steps” are.
  • Other heroes, villians, men, women and inanimate objects.

THE 39 STEPS is not a show that is done often so if you are looking for an exciting new production to be a part of, please consider coming to the auditions next week!