The Orange Leader
The Orange Community Players will take its first step on stage with its season debut on Thursday night.
The Orange Community Players first offering this season is a quirky comedy based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock movie, “The 39 Steps”, and the book of the same name by John Buchan. Director Al Vasquez says, “The play features four OCP actors playing actors trying to recreate the film.”
The plot follows the lead character as he begins by lamenting his tedious life and longing for something more entertaining. He soon gets his wish as a beautiful spy spends the night at his apartment and is murdered during the night. This sets off a series of hilarious scenes while he runs from the police and he struggles to prove his innocence.
The play succeeds due to the amazing talents of the four talented, young actors. Nolan Thornal carries the show on his very capable shoulders, playing the hero, who is described several times as having “dark wavy hair, haunting dark eyes, and a handsome pencil mustache.” He is particularly good when he is mistaken for a national politician and is forced to speak for a local candidate he doesn’t even know. Thornal keeps the action moving briskly and carries the audience along with him. His performance is stunning. Kudos to Thornal!
The ensemble cast also includes Zech Turk, Jessica Bean, and Alexa Guilbeau. These three embody a multitude of characters changing from one to another in lightning speed. The Spartan set uses a few battered trunks that morph into the interior of, and then the roof of, a speeding train, and also into a getaway car. Newly acquired stage lighting is definitely an asset.
Zech Turk switches back and forth from female to male roles and delivers some of the best lines of the play. Alexa Guilbeau also plays many male and female characters. These two actors bring enthusiasm and panache to all of their roles. Bravo to these two!
Jessica Bean first plays the beautiful spy and also the hero’s love interest later in the play. The scene with her trying to remove her hose while handcuffed to the hero is very funny. Bean is certainly a scene stealer every moment she is on the stage. She is gifted with great stage presence. She also realistically plays Margaret, the brow-beaten wife of a farmer, emoting just the right feeling. Great job, Ms. Bean!
The movie was a melodrama and the play, though using most of the same dialog, is a comedy. The director, Vasquez, has done a fine job of melding the right actors with a fun script. The British and Scottish accents are a little tedious and hard to understand some of the time but overall, the show will provide an entertaining night out. The play is the longest running comedy on Broadway and has won two Tony Awards.
Showtimes for “39 Steps” are at 7:37 p.m., nightly, Thursday, Sept. 19 through Saturday, Sept. 21, and again Thursday, Sept. 26 through Saturday, Sept. 28. A matinee is scheduled at 2:37 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 29. Reservations are recommended and may be obtained by calling 409-882-9137 or by logging on to www.orangecommunityplayers.org. Tickets are adults $15 and students $10.