Actors kept busy in Hitchcock production

Made famous by the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, The 39 Steps was adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow in 2005.

However, while Hitchcock's version was a serious affair, the stage adaption has a dash of Monty Python about it, combined with the classic 'whodunit' comedy.

Director Doug Bennett said the show was "side-splitting funny", particularly with two actors portraying 110 roles, including police officers, underwear salesmen and porters.

Bennett said the cast of four had been rehearsing three times a week for the past 2½ months.The crew played a vital part in the show and "became the other actors".

There are more than 120 sound cues for each show and 50 lighting cues which, as Bennett said, made for a challenging task for performers and crew.

Bennett has been involved with amateur theatre shows across Melbourne for 54 years — since he was 15. He said while it was still exciting to be involved, it took longer to get enthused about the performance.

"It takes me a week or two, but then I think to myself that I am really enjoying it. There's heaps left in the tank still." The 69 year old is also a vocal advocate for amateur theatre groups, such as 1812, because "it's a total community".

He said it appalled him that some professional actors denied their roots. "Judi Dench is never too proud to say she worked in amateur theatre."

Bennett believes more people should see such shows. "They're doing it for love — so it should be even better than people just doing it for money."

The 39 Steps begins tomorrow and runs until Saturday, December 8. Cost: $25. 

Details: 1812theatre.com.au.

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