Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

The 39 Steps
Albuquerque Little Theatre
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Rachel Foster, Rob Armstrong Martin,
Brian Schaeffer, and Zane Ivey

Photo by Ponic Photography
Combine a film masterpiece by Alfred Hitchcock with a juicy spy novel, add a pinch of Monty Python humor, and what is the result? A fast-paced noire mystery with four versatile actors portraying more than 50 roles. This is The 39 Steps, playing at Albuquerque Little Theatre through May 5.

Nobby Diamond and Simon Corble developed the concept based on John Buchan's 1915 novel and the 1935 Hitchcock film. Playwright Patrick Barlow's adaptation of their concept premiered in 2005, moving to London's West End in 2006, where it won an Olivier Award for Best Comedy. The 39 Steps opened on Broadway in 2008 where it won two Tony Awards and two Drama Desk Awards. It closed on Broadway on January 10, 2010, after 771 performances. There have been many productions across the U.S.A. and the U.K. since then.

The plot is pretty skimpy. A nice guy, Richard Hannay, encounters a sexy woman, perhaps a spy, who is promptly stabbed in his apartment. Richard flees the murderous scene and becomes the focus of a nationwide manhunt. This satiric and absurd adaptation of the original film noir is a hilarious comedy full of inventive stagecraft and virtuoso performances that will have you laughing out loud. The wild comedy is designed for only four actors, who play all the roles. They reenact all of the characters, locations, and famous scenes with only a few props, a lot of theatrical ingenuity, and split-second timing.

ALT's production is an enjoyable evening of theatre. Director Henry Avery has assembled a very talented cast and a worthy production crew to bring this play delightfully to life. Brian Schaeffer, anchoring the production as Richard Hannay, is the only actor playing just one character. He brings a wealth of stage, film and television experience to this role. A relative newcomer to the Albuquerque theatre scene, he is a very welcome addition. He conveys humanity to this everyman character. Rachel Foster plays most of the women's roles and is equally effective as a vamp or a sweet ingenue. She does deadpan quite well and is making a name for herself in Albuquerque since relocating here in 2020.

Zane Ivey and Rob Armstrong Martin play Clown 1 and Clown 2, respectively, and take on all the other roles in the show. Both are excellent. Zane Ivey is a wonderful physical actor and Rob Armstrong Martin can play cross-dressing roles very well. The entire ensemble work masterfully well together throughout the production.

The design elements are very important to the success of any production of The 39 Steps. Kudos to projection, props and sound design by Lando Ruiz, lighting design by RayRey Griego, costume design by Chris Appleton, and scenic design by Jason Roman and Mr. Avery. Special mention to stage manager Alicia Leyva, who keeps things running smoothly with nary a false step. The timing and special effects are handled with ease.

As director Avery states, "Our goal is simple: to entertain and engage and to leave you with a smile on your face long after the final curtain falls." The 39 Steps achieves this goal. This is a theatrical experience worth your time and its a lot of fun.

The 39 Steps runs through May 5, 2024, at Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale SW, Albuquerque, NM 87104. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays and Saturday, April 27 at 2:00 pm, and Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 pm. Ticket prices: Adult $25, Child (under 12) $17, Senior (65+) $23, Student $21. For tickets and information, please visit or call 505-242-04750.

Directed by Henry Avery, Lighting Design by RayRey Griego, Scenic Design by Henry Avery and Jason Roman, Costume Design by Chris Appleton, Projection, Props and Sound Design by Lando Ruiz, Stage Manager Alicia Leyva. Cast: Brian Schaeffer, Rachel Foster, Zane Ivey, and Rob Armstrong Martin.