America's Oldest · Founded 1808

Now Playing On Our Mainstage: Broadway's Funniest Thriller - Alfred Hitchcock's THE 39 STEPS

March 6, 2011

(Clockwise) Dan Hodge, Paul Riopelle, David Hess and Joan Hess.

Philadelphia, PA: Walnut Street Theatre continues its landmark 202nd season with the Philadelphia premiere of Alfred Hitchcock's THE 39 STEPS, winner of an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, two Tony Awards and two Drama Desk Awards. Directed by William Roudebush, THE 39 STEPS begins previews on March 15th, opens on March 23rd and runs through May 1st on the WST Mainstage.

Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have THE 39 STEPS. Richard Hannay, our hero, is intrigued by a mysterious woman claiming to be a spy. He finds himself on a mad dash from London to Scotland when this charming lady winds up dead in his flat. With police hot on his trail, Hannay has a series of misadventures involving an on-stage plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers and some good old-fashioned romance. With four actors creating over 150 crazy characters, this fast-paced whodunit will be an unforgettable evening of nonstop laughs.

THE 39 STEPS was adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan and the movie by Alfred Hitchcock and the original concept by Nobby Dimon and Simon Corble. Although the novel has been adapted for the screen multiple times, Hitchcock's version is considered to be the best. With lightening quick action and split-second character changes, THE 39 STEPS theatrical play is almost word for word the film, only now the excitement happens right before your eyes.

THE 39 STEPS premiered in April of 1996 at the Georgian Theatre, Richmond, North Yorkshire. The show continues to play to sold-out houses at the Criterion in London's West End. It premiered on Broadway in January of 2008 at Roundabout Theatre Company, where it was hailed "The most entertaining show on Broadway" by The New York Post. The Walnut's production of THE 39 STEPS is produced in association with Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, PA.

Directing THE 39 STEPS is Philadelphia resident and Walnut Street Theatre veteran William Roudebush. Having directed over 250 productions throughout the country at theatres including Actors Theatre of Louisville and The Cleveland Play House, THE 39 STEPS marks his 14th production at the Walnut. Roudebush's directing debut at the Walnut was made 25 years ago, in 1986, with Tomfoolery. He enjoys sharing his experiences through teaching. He has taught acting for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, The University of Memphis, Virginia Commonwealth University, The Mint Theatre Company, Cleveland Play House, and was the Theatre School Director for the Walnut Street Theatre from 1995-1999.

From the flats of London to the castles of Scotland, THE 39 STEPS features a set design by Robert Andrew Kovach (Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Mel Brooks' The Producers), whose credits extend beyond the theatre having designed for the Oprah Winfrey Show, Democratic Conventions 2000 & 2004 and MTV's Real World. The design team creating the quick scene changing mayhem also includes lighting designer Paul Black (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Peter Pan), award-winning sound designer Christopher Colucci (Amadeus, The Glass Menagerie) and award-winning costume designer Colleen Grady (Amadeus, Fiddler on the Roof).

The extremely talented cast of THE 39 STEPS includes husband and wife team David Hess (Richard Hannay) and Joan Hess (Annabella/Margaret/Pamela), both Walnut veterans. Most recently, David Hess appeared as Lt. Frank Cioffi in Curtains and Joan Hess as Fernande Olivier in La Vie en Bleu. Within one performance of THE 39 STEPS, their multiple on-stage relationships will tackle intrigue, romance, murder and excitement in ways they wouldn't have ever imagined in real life. Paul Riopelle (Clown #1) and Dan Hodge (Clown #2) bring to life the hilarious additional 100+ roles, having worked together previously in the Walnut's Independence Studio on 3 production of Travels With My Aunt.

THE 39 STEPS runs at the Walnut March 15 through May 1. This production is sponsored by Blank Rome, LLP. Media Sponsors are B101, NBC 10 and the Philadelphia Inquirer. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting or Ticketmaster.