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Published: Thursday, 11/8/2012

Comedy thriller 'The 39 Steps' coming to the Valentine

BY JULIE NJAIM
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Cindy Williams, starring in the production of "Nunsense," at the Stranahan theater. Cindy Williams, starring in the production of "Nunsense," at the Stranahan theater.
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The Valentine Theatre will open its Broadway series Sunday with the comedic thriller The 39 Steps in which four actors play more than 150 characters.

The play stays true to the 1939 film in which Richard Hannay has been framed for murder and is on the run trying to prove his innocence, but it capitalizes on director Alfred Hitchcock's humor.

"We're still going to be true to the plot, but we're still going to add our comic flair to that plot," said actor Nicholas Wilder in a phone interview from Texas, where the national tour was laying over on its way to Oklahoma.

Wilder plays about 75 characters in this production, sometimes changing roles mid-scene. "I would say it's scary but also exciting to do all these different roles. It's sort of liberating and fun to switch so quickly," he said. "It's a treat for the audience to see how we can change... You put on this hat and you become a Scottish policeman; you put on this hat and you become an English salesman." At times Wilder plays inanimate objects, including a rock and a bog.

The 39 Steps is Broadway's longest-running comedy thriller. It won two 2008 Tony Awards for best lighting and best sound. It opened January, 2008, and closed two years later after 771 performances.

This tour is scheduled through late November and also is slated in Colorado, Ohio, California, Indiana, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and North Carolina.

"The 39 Steps" will be performed at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Valentine Theatre, 400 N. Superior St. Ticket prices range from $43 to $63. Information: 419-242-2787 or valentinetheatre.com.

Hamlet Hater

The Toledo Repertoire Theatre opened its season with the classic tragedy Hamlet and this weekend will follow with Paul Rudnick's tongue-in-cheek I Hate Hamlet.

"You don't have to hate Hamlet to love I Hate Hamlet. It's not a spoof of Hamlet. It's not a contemporary stab-in-the-back at Hamlet. What I decided to do with this is bring some theatrical elements from Hamlet to this show. I've connected the two in a comedic way," said director Barbara Barkan, who played Player Queen in the recent Hamlet production.

John DuVall as Andrew Rally is an out-of-work soap opera actor who lands a role as Hamlet. Unfortunately, Rally hates the play. To make matters worse, he rents the apartment inhabited by Larry Farley as the ghost of John Barrymore, the greatest Shakespearean actor of all time.

"It's just the most delightful, light-hearted comedy with a bit of punch and a bunch of bravado and fun-making,"

"I Hate Hamlet" will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Nov. 17 at Toledo Repertoire Theatre, 16 10th St. Additional performances are at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Nov. 18. There also is a performance at 8 p.m. Nov. 15. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $10 for ages 13 and older, and $5 for ages 12 and younger. Information: 419-243-9277 or toledorep.org.

Nun Laughs

Cindy Williams, best known as Shirley Feeney from the long-running ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, plays Mother Superior Wednesday in Nunset Boulevard: The Nunsense Hollywood Bowl Show at the Stranahan Theater.

The Little Sisters of Hoboken touring troupe is excited to perform at the Hollywood Bowl. Their excitement ends when they arrive to find they are a lounge act in the Hollywood Bowl-A-Rama. The sisters set their sights on a director across the street screening for an actress to play a movie star who becomes a nun.

"Nunset Boulevard: The Nunsense Hollywood Bowl Show" will be performed at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. A $5 discount will be given at time of purchase if the purchaser mentions a church, school, or senior. Mary's Enterprise will donate $5 to Catholic Charities for each of those tickets sold . Ticket prices range from $30 to $45. Information: 419-381-8851 or stranahantheater.org.

Psychological Thriller

FREMONT -- Ghosts, skeletons, and five versions of how a man plummeted to his death is what Inspector Ruffing will encounter this weekend as Fremont Community Theatre presents Ravenscroft.

Mitchell Antesky as Ruffing is called to a remote mansion on a snowy night to unravel the mystery of how a man fell head-first down a staircase and died. He meets the five women in the house who are enchanting and dangerous. They tell contradictory stories, leading Ruffing through a maze of untruths in search of the truth.

"Ravenscroft" will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Nov. 17 and at 2 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 18 at Fremont Community Theatre, 1551 Dickinson St., Fremont. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Information: 419-332-0695 or fremontcommunitytheatre.org.

Send theater items at least two weeks in advance to jnjaim@theblade.com



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