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by Charlsie Dewey | THEATRE Other Theatre

Events | by Scotty Vernon

Henry IV Part I Dog Story Theater, Grand Rapids Aug. 19-21, show times at 3 and 8 p.m. $6-$12;, (616) 894-1252

Shakespeare’s classic, Henry IV, is getting a facelift from Dog Story Theatre this month. During Shakespeare’s time all of the charac- ters, whether male or female, were performed with all male casts. The theatre is switching up this performance with an all female cast playing mostly male roles. In Henry IV Part I, Prince Hal — the son of King Henry IV — is a drunk, a rebel, and heir to the throne. But when a revolt against his father is planned, he must decide where his true loyalties lie, or should I say where her true loyalties lie.

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story Red Barn Playhouse Aug. 12-27, show times at 2 and 7:30 p.m. $20;, (269) 857-5300

Just as the title would lead you to believe, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story is the story of American rock ‘n’ roll legend Buddy Holly. During the ‘50s, Holly was a one-of-a-kind musician who climbed to the top of the charts in just a few short years. Then, at the age of 22, life was cut short in a plane crash. His music continues to influence musicians to this day, and a Buddy Holly cover album titled Rave On was released this year. The show will feature Holly hits, as well as will bring you back to the rock ‘n’ roll era of the ‘50s.

A Hitchcock Comedy? The 39 Steps Laughs Its Way Through Saugatuck M

ASON STREET WAREHOUSE (Saugatuck) is in the midst of a bustling summer theatre season, but this month might be its most fervent with the production of The 39 Steps. The play is based on the 1935 British thriller

THE 39 STEPS Mason Street Warehouse, Saugatuck Aug. 12-28, show times at 2, 7 and 8 p.m. $36.50-$39.75, (269) 857-4898

film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, with one major difference; on the stage it becomes a hilarious comedy, according to Kurt Stamm, theatre founder and director. The dialogue was trans- ferred almost word-for-word by Patrick Barlow, who adapted the film into a play. Stamm said Barlow then heightened each character to create the wacky personalities that make it a successful comedy. The story centers on a British

gentleman who goes to the theatre one night and brings a woman home. The next morning, he awakes to find the woman murdered on his apartment floor, but before she dies, she insists that he must find the 39 steps. He immediately sets out on

this mysterious adventure with police in hot pursuit. The 39 Steps is remarkable because it draws on the talents of four

actors to play the parts of more than 50 characters. It also includes numer- ous scenarios, settings and a slew of mistaken identities, whodunits and plot twists. Are you tired yet? “It almost reminds me of the great ‘Frasier’ episodes of the ‘90s,” said

Stamm. “They would go away to the ski lodge and every single person in the ski lodge is after somebody else, but not the person who is after them. So it is a case of mistaken identity and misconceptions of who people are with all these fun, wacky characters. Aside from all those components, it’s a really good story and that for me is the most important element.” To pull off all 50 characters, the actors rely on three main elements:

their accent, their demeanor and a hat. “There is a scene on the train where one guy plays a traveling sales-

man, a paperboy and the conductor, and all he does is he changes his hat. At one point he gets confused about who he is supposed to be, which is part of the comedy of the scene.”

Set design and props are also limited to a few signature items that

portray the different settings. By relying heavily on classical theatre conventions and highly dramatized style, the actors are able to bring the audience into the world of the play. “If you set up a world and you define it and then you play by those

rules, your audience will accept anything,” Stamm said. He acknowledged another production he directed in which a table

and four chairs served as the only set pieces and became every setting that was needed; a car, a living room or any setting the production required. He believes that the audience can easily make that leap with the actors. So far, it seems that Stamm is right. In 2007, the play won the Olivier

Award for best comedy and the What’s On Stage Award for best comedy. It also won two Tony Awards in 2008 for lighting and sound design as well as being nominated for four other Tony Awards. Stamm said that the play is clever, funny, well-written and enjoyable

for any age. n




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