Quote of the Day: Research shows that we are far more likely to laugh aloud when we are in a crowd than when we watch comedy at home on a screen. Those collective chuckles and guffaws validate our perceptions that something is funny, and stoke the engine of our own laughter. They also bind us to one another socially for a moment. When we laugh together we are saying, that for this brief instant, we are seeing the world through the exact same lens. No divisions – just common happy understanding. from “Director’s Notes” by Scott Ford, who is directing The 39 Steps at Lyric Arts Main Stage in Anoka, MN. I love hearing others in the audience – laugh, chuckle, guffaw, giggle, and snort – at funny moments. I completely agree with Mr. Ford’s statement. You might smile or chuckle softly when you’re enjoying comedy alone, but it takes the collective response to get the full-on belly laugh, one person’s joyful response feeding off another’s surprised outburst. I’ve missed it so much these past long months of isolation and dark theaters. I’m grateful to be back in the audience.
Lyric Arts Main Stage in Anoka, MN welcomes audiences back to their theater with the hilarious comedy The 39 Steps, adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan and the 1935 movie by Alfred Hitchcock. It’s a play that pokes fun at movies, the detective genre, and the creators of them. Four actors: Kyler Chase, Zoe Hartigan, Jake Sung-Guk Sullivan, and Brendan Veerman play all the roles. All the actors rise to the challenge of this demanding, physical comedy. They have to be on nearly all the time during this two-hour play, and the Clowns have to change character constantly, even within the same scene. The train scenes were particularly impressive. At one point they created the impression of hanging off the sides and running along the top of a train, moving hats, coats, and set pieces, as well as using their voices and bodies to build this scene. Also, highlight moments reminiscent of Keystone cops, the Marx brothers, melodrama of the silent film era, detective work of film noir, references to old movies (some I got, many I missed), stellar comedic timing, and terrific staging. We thoroughly enjoyed the entire performance.
The costumes (Emma Kravig) were great, period silent film era. Lighting (Kyia Britts) and Sound (Julie Zumsteg) were critical in pulling off this show, including many atmospheric moments and tons of sound effects, which had to be carefully coordinated! The actors roll prop and set pieces on and off, change, manipulate, and otherwise maneuver them in ways that stimulate the imagination. Properties designed by Katie Phillips and the amazing set was designed by Peter Lerohl. No doubt Choreographer Hannah Weinberg-Goerger orchestrated much of the physical timing in this performance. Keely Wolter was Dialect Coach for the many, many accents the actors needed to employ! In one impressive scene, one of the actors goes through a list of accents and voices in about 30 seconds!
If you’re in need of comic relief, community gathering, and an enjoyable collective experience, go to Lyric Arts and escape into the brilliant comedy of The 39 Steps, playing through October 17, 2021. Congrats to the entire creative team, box office, support, and volunteers for a successful and fun reopening! I can’t wait to see more from the amazing season at Lyric Arts!
Go. Create. Inspire!
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Running on top of a train – not an easy feat to pull off on a theater stage.
I know! It was brilliant.
I think everybody’s in need of a community gathering and comic relief! I’m so happy to read about the theater reopening and offering entertainment in person again.