Jewel Box Theatre's production of “The 39 Steps” is a charming and entertaining event, well worth an evening of your time. The script, a light and witty satire of classic Alfred Hitchcock film scenarios, needs sharp timing, precise and clear diction, and lots of stage and theater magic — the kind that usually requires a proscenium stage, with wings, flies and special lighting.
The Jewel Box, with its open, in-the-round construction, would not be considered an ideal setting for this show. However, director Jennifer Teel renders “The 39 Steps” beautifully. Her cast, most of whom are faced with the need to be many characters, has adapted to the needs of the piece and deliver solid and engaging performances.
As Richard Hannay, Kevin Logan is the only actor who has the luxury of not changing identities, and in return he has to carry the piece. He does this ably, bringing the audience along for an exciting ride through various scenes parodied from classic Hitchcock films.
Logan is well partnered by Crystal Ecker, who plays her several roles — femme fatale, trapped woman and ingenue — with equal deftness and grace. Richie Rayfield and Matt Barger handled the roles of the two clowns very well. The hat scene demonstrates the cleverness with which these two actors switch among several character parts with only a change of headgear and vocal styling.
To address the needs of a production in the round, Teel has introduced the character of the “Foley Operator,” which is theater jargon for the sound effects person. In this role, dressed as an orchestra conductor and occupying a ridiculously tiny orchestra pit, Chris Rodgers very nearly steals the show. Using Rodgers' talented and elastic face perfectly, Teel weaves him into the show seamlessly — although the character does not exist in the script.
Rodgers and Ecker both demonstrate a sharpness of timing that heightens the dramatic silliness of the show.
Logan, called upon to think on his feet constantly, managed perfectly when a prop malfunctioned and he covered the situation with aplomb. Barger and Rayfield bounce from character part to character part with alacrity and skill.
— Anna Holloway