Edmonton-based theatre director Kristen Finlay calls the past two years of COVID lockdown in the theatre industry the “great pause.” Seeing it vacuum the creative energy from the vibrant community she loves, Finlay knows it’s time to release that pent-up energy with her newest Walterdale Theatre production, The 39 Steps.
“It’s a fast-paced show with mysteries to solve, laughs to share, and some good old romance,” says Finlay. “After the last two years, I think we all need to laugh.”
Finlay decided on a smaller production with only six cast members to create a close bond among the team. It’s also easier to rehearse virtually. All cast members except Lucas Anders play multiple roles.
“My character, Richard Hannay, is in the centre of the storm. Everyday at the rehearsal I see my crew stay in and out different characters, it’s such a unique experience,” says Anders.
Finlay knows Anders is not complaining — the role he plays is already dynamic and full of stories. And when Anders tells me he has a similar adventurous energy as Hannay, Finlay reveals that it also means he volunteers to drop off posters all around his favourite places in town, doughnut shops included.
Compared to the thrilling seriousness in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film and John Buchan’s original novel, this Walterdale production (based on the original London production directed by Maria Aitken) is humorous and lively. Or as Finlay describes, “We do a lot of cardio on stage.”
“All we need now, especially after seeing our first rehearsal, is the audience,” says Finlay. “We need audiences!”
The 39 Steps is onstage at the Walterdale Theatre until May 2t. Run time: two hours and twenty minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.