Hitchcock and The 39 Steps

by Artistic Director Julian Wiles

As a kid, I remember watching Alfred’s Hitchcock’s The Birds on TV and being terrified of birds for the next week or so.  It takes an imaginative (and somewhat off-kilter) sensibility to turn something as innocent as birds into the horsemen of the apocalypse.  For in general, a Hitchcock film meant you were entering into a twisted world – whether it was Psycho, or Spellbound, or his spy films like Notorious or The 39 Steps.  In almost all of these films, an innocent somehow gets caught in some nefarious plot leading to amazing chases . . . ranging from the top of Mount Rushmore to, in the case of The 39 Steps, the tops of moving rail cars and the lochs and moors of Scotland.  In Hitchcock’s world, characters were sent dashing, often just ahead of danger, wherever his imaginative mind directed them.

The same sort of imaginative minds created the original stage production of The 39 Steps at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in England in 2005—beginning with the improbable idea of putting all of Hitchcock’s film onstage AND doing it with just four actors!  But that simple, wild and crazy idea created one of the most imaginative comedies in years—one that was a hit in London, then in New York (where it became Broadway’s longest running comedy) and then in theatres all over the world.  Audiences everywhere have delighted in the antics of the Monty Python/silent movie-like comic routines of the four tireless actors who bring this breakneck comedy to life with each performance.

Imagination is the heart and soul of theatre, and at Charleston Stage we have a team of over 100 actors, scenic artists, costumers and technicians working year round to give this great city the most imaginative productions ever.  That creativity is fueled by your ticket purchases and especially by your generous support.  We are heartened that, since we have returned to the Dock Street, ticket sales have grown and continue to grow with each production.  But your support, especially in our upcoming Annual Campaign, is critical to keeping the fires of creativity and imagination burning.

Thanks so much for your support of the imaginative work of Charleston Stage.  I know you will enjoy the creativity and off-the-wall hilarity of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps.

From left to right: George Younts as Man 1, Beth Curley as Annabella Schmidt, Kyle W. Barnette as Richard Hannay, and Brian J. Porter as Man 2 in Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps.

A Note From Amanda Wansa, Director of Bunnicula



From left to right: Charleston Stage Performance Troupe Members Karen Majewski as Petra and David Lynch as Toby in Bunnicula.


An art aims, above all, at producing something beautiful which affects not our feelings but the organ of pure contemplation, our imagination. – Eduard Hanslick

Part of our mission statement at Charleston Stage is to share [our] talents with young people, teachers, and schools in the community; and inspire participants to celebrate their own creativity.  Imagination is such an important part of our childhood and our adulthood.  This may be the first theatrical experience for many children.  In a modern American culture where kids can easily be inundated with the special effects of movies, television, and internet media, we as theatre artists seek to push them to use their own imagination, which is a beautiful thing!  There is something magical about seeing a human actor transform into a dog or a cat, and cause an audience member to forget that they are actors.  There is something magical about believing that dogs and cats really do break into song and dance to express their feelings!  There is something magical about 450 people sitting together, being told the same story and laughing along.

You’ll notice that the actor controlling the puppet of Bunnicula is clearly visible.  It is my hope that audiences will use their imagination to accept the artistic medium of puppetry.  This magic allows us to believe that Peter Pan can fly across the stage without strings, and that Dorothy is truly carried by a tornado to Munchkinland.  Theatre is about magic, creativity, and escape from the realities of test scores, budgets, and the gravity that keeps us on the ground.

There are so many themes in this piece that range from the dynamics of friendship to the judgment and perception of other creatures before actually knowing them.  Is Bunnicula really a vegetable-juice-sucking-bunny-vampire?  Where did that music come from?!  WHY DID THE LIGHTS JUST GO OUT?!  

Don’t worry, its just theatre magic…

I encourage you to watch, laugh, listen, and take a journey with Harold and Chester into the mysterious tale of Bunnicula!!  Bunnicula runs October 15th at 7:30pm and 16th at 3:00pm at the Historic Dock Street Theatre.  Get your tickets today!