Little Theatre To Present ‘The 39 Steps’ Starting Next Week

This month’s upcoming stage production of the Lucille Ball Little Theatre has its small, but talented cast testing their multi-tasking abilities as they prepare for opening night.

The 18 E. Second St. theater group will present its adaptation of John Buchan’s “The 39 Steps” starting next weekend, with show times at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 9; Saturday, March 10; Friday, March 16; and Saturday, March 17 — as well as 2 p.m. Sunday matinee performances March 11 and 18.

Described as a comic farce which combines a Hitchcock Masterpiece with a juicy spy novel and a dash of Monty Python, “The 39 Steps” comes across as a fast-paced whodunit that is enjoyable to theater-lovers of all sorts. The Little Theatre’s adaptation includes a four-person cast comprised of John Pickett, Rycheigh Allan, Aubrey Russell and Danica Olson-Walter, of whom the latter three will be required to wear many hats, literally.

“We started rehearsals at the beginning of February and so we have a five-week turnaround, which is doable, but the challenge with this play is that we have four actors performing between 100 and 150 characters,” said Richard Olson-Walter, artistic director. “To make matters more challenging is that John Pickett is only playing the lead role of Richard Hannay and my wife, Danica, is playing the three female roles. Rycheigh and Aubrey are playing the 100-plus other roles, and they have to use all kinds of accents and mannerisms, in addition to several costume changes — in some cases several times per (script) page.”

The play is centered around its protagonist, Hannay, who is bored with his life and decides to spend a night at the theater. Little does he know that this decision will change his entire life, and plunge him into a world of mystery, danger and intrigue.

When a German woman he met at the theater ends up dead in his apartment, he follows the clues she leaves for him as he tries to uncover a secret organization known as “The 39 Steps.” All the time he is being pursued by the police, as well as “The 39 Steps” themselves. The show concludes with a death-defying finale.

Richard Olson-Walter said the stage will also serve to take audiences along on the adventure, transforming itself from Hannay’s living room to a theater to a train carriage to a Scottish bridge, and much more.

“It’s really inventive, but simple in terms of what the theater can do, yet it’s still effective,” he said. “We’re using simple things to make some very complex scenery and other backdrops, and that’s obviously been a separate challenge just trying to get all that to come together. The way it’s lit and the sound effects paint the picture for the audience, and so this whole thing really sinks or swims on the technical aspects of the show.”

Tickets for “The 39 Steps” are $22 or $12 for students. They can be purchased at the Little Theatre box office, by calling 485-1095 or by visiting