If you're a fan of Alfred Hitchcock films, you might want to check out the stage version of the classic film "39 Steps" that's coming to the Players Theatre in Sarasota this weekend.
If you're a Hitchcock purist, however, you might want to think twice before ordering your tickets. This is not the "39 Steps" that you know and love.
The plot's the same, and all the characters from the 1935 film (and the 1915 novel by John Buchan) are there. But the entire cast of Patrick Barlow's stage adaptation consist of four actors. One -- in this case, Jared Walker -- plays the hero, Richard Hannay. Melissa Ingrisano plays three women and Jeffery Kin and Walter Price take all the other roles -- men, women and children. (Kin is the artistic director of the Players Theatre.)
You may have guessed that it's not a straight retelling of the story about an innocent man who gets caught up in intrigue involving an international spy ring.
Barlow's adaptation is a comedy, almost a satire, and it's very fast-paced and very funny. It was a hit on Broadway, and it's been a popular entry in schedules of regional theaters around the country. It has even spawned a mini-genre of comic plays with small casts based on films with large casts (including Jon Jory's "Tom Jones," which Florida Studio Theatre staged a few years ago.)
Details: Oct. 1-Oct. 11, The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1 and 3, 6-9, 2 p.m. Oct. 4 and 11, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10. Tickets: $25-$30. Information: 941-365-2494, theplayers.org.
-- Marty Clear