@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.

The 39 Steps

Adapted by Patrick Barlow, Directed by Ceil Herman
From the novel by John Buchan, From the Movie of Alfred Hitchcock,
and an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon

  • L to R: David Reyes (Clown 1), Emily Campion (Pamela) Algernon D'Ammassa (Hannay) and Dustin Hadfield (Clown 2)
  • L to R: Dustin Hadfield (Clown 2), David Reyes (Clown 1) as Heavies
  • L to R: Algernon D'Ammassa (Hannay) and David Reyes (Clown 1 as Professor Jordan)
  • L to R: David Reyes (Clown 1 as the Announcer), Algernon D'Ammassa (Hannay), Emily Campion (Pamela) and Dustin Hadfield (Clown 2 as Mr. Memory)
  • L to R: Emily Campion (Margaret) and David Reyes (Clown 1 as the Crofter)
  • L to R: Algernon D'Ammassa (Hannay) and David Reyes (Clown 1 as the Milkman)
  • L to R: Emily Campion (Margaret), David Reyes (Clown 1 as the Crofter) and Algernon D'Ammassa (Hannay)
  • L to R: Dustin Hadfield (Clown 2), David Reyes (Clown 1) as salesmen, and Algernon D'Ammassa (Hannay)
  • L to R: Emily Campion (Annabella) and Algernon D'Ammassa (Hannay)

Sep 16-Oct 09, 2011

FRI SEP 16,23,30 OCT 7| 8:00 PM
SAT SEP 17,24, OCT 1,8*| 8:00 PM
SUN SEP 25, OCT 2,9*| 2:30 PM
THU SEP 29 | 7:00 PM


The play is adapted by Patrick Barlow from the 1915 novel by John Buchan, the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock and an original concept by Simon Corbie and Nobby Dimon, and will be directed by NSTC's Artistic Director Ceil Herman.

"The 39 Steps" is Broadway's longest running comedy. The script takes a story which was originally a thriller, and plays it as a comedy with quick costume, set and lighting changes and filled with allusions to other Hitchcock films, including "Rear Window" and "North by Northwest." Mix the original Hitchcock film of "The 39 Steps" with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python, and you have a whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre. This 2 time Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning treat is packed with laughs. A blend of virtuoso performances by 4 actors and wildly inventive stagecraft, "The 39 Steps" is an unforgettable evening of pure pleasure. .

The Black Box Theatre production stars Algernon D'Ammassa as the hero, Richard Hannay. D'Ammassa was last seen at the Black Box Theatre in NSTC's "Crime and Punishment." The other three actors are new to the Black Box Theatre, but have considerable experience performing in other venues. Emily Campion portray Hannay's three love interests which include Annabella, the mysterious woman who gets Hannay involved in the thriller, Margaret, the farmer's wife, and Pamela, the classy woman who Hannay meets on the train, and spends a large portion of the play handcuffed to, as he and she flees his pursuers. David Reyes and Dustin Hadfield all the other characters in the show, including salesmen, police, pilots, milkmen, music hall performers, and country inn owners, among others. Peter Herman is the Scenic and Lighting Designer, Lana Eckman designed Costumes, Debbi Knapp is Choreographer, and Rorie Measure is the Assistant Director. Multiple lighting, sound, slide projection, and costume changes are skillfully handled by the production team which includes Jill Drake, Stage Manager,
Danny Wade, light board operator and slide projectionist, Kimberly Caroe, sound board operator, and Daniel Caroe, Assistant Stage Manager.

Director's Note

John Buchan was born in 1875 in Perth, Scotland and wrote The 39 Steps in 1915. Buchan's son, William, later wrote that the title originated when the author's daughter, then about age six, was counting stairs at a private nursing home in Broadstairs, where Buchan was convalescing. "There was a wooden staircase leading down to the beach. My sister, who was about six, and who had just learnt to count properly, went down them and gleefully announced: there are 39 steps." Some time later the house was demolished and a section of the stairs, complete with a brass plaque, was sent to Buchan.

There have been three different film versions, none of which are faithful to the book. The novel concentrates on the protagonist, Richard Hannay, and no female character is added for love interest. The first, and best, adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock starred Robert Donat as Hannay and Madeline Carroll as Pamela. The other women, Margaret and Annabella, were essential to the plot of the film. The play casts one actress as all three women and uses two male actors, termed "The Clowns," to portray all the supporting characters.

Peter and I saw The 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre in London. The Criterion specializes in plays which require actors to play multiple roles, such as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and The Complete Works of America (Abridged), both of which we produced at BBT. Since I did not direct either of these, I had no idea of the complications involved. Directing this show required the help of very versatile and talented actors, designers and crew, all of which I was fortunate to have. Many thanks to them all.


Annabella, Margaret, Pamela
Characters In The Show [ Salesmen, Police, Pilots, Milkmen, Music Hall Performers, And Country Inn Owners, Among Others]
Characters In The Show [ Salesmen, Police, Pilots, Milkmen, Music Hall Performers, And Country Inn Owners, Among Others]
Richard Hannay
Adapted By
Assistant Director
Assistant Stage Manager
Costume Designer
From The Movie Of
From The Novel By
Light Board Operator And Slide Projectionist
Original Concept By
Original Concept By
Scenic And Lighting Designer
Sound Board Operator
Stage Manager


'The 39 Steps' presents unique challenge
Cast of four has more than 100 roles

- By Gerald M. Kane , Las Cruces Bulletin

It was with great anticipation that I attended the opening night performance of "The 39 Steps" at the Black Box Theatre. I couldn't imagine how this long-running parody/farce, still playing in London and New York, with productions performed all over the world would play out in Las Cruces.

Before the show, the guiding forces behind the No Strings Theatre Company, Ceil and Peter Herman, told me this play presented unique challenges on so many levels. Ceil Herman admitted it was the most difficult show she ever directed in all her years at stage direction.

Fear not, Ceil and Peter Herman. You did a terrific job, as I guessed you would. While the opening night performance was understandably choppy, the first before an audience, I am confident that with your guidance, this talented cast and crew will smooth out the rough edges very quickly.

Make your reservations early, gentle readers. As the four actors in the company, and a very busy behind-the-scenes crew settle more comfortably into their demanding roles in this arduous and often hilarious play, you will be in for quite a treat.

Peter Barlow adapted the famous 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name together with the 1915 novel by John Buchan. From the novel, only the lead character, debonair Richard Hannay, is taken, and the result is one amazing piece of theater craft.

This show is a farce/parody in the truest sense of the words with the addition of enormous bits of shtick thrown in, in the most surprising places.

The play first premiered in England in 2005 with the greatest challenge being that the entire company consists of four actors playing more than 100 different parts. Crazy, you say?

Yes, indeed it is.

What impressed this reviewer most is that how so complex a play could be assembled in such a short time - about one month! Some cast members must change costumes and accents in seconds. The costume design by Lana Eckman is applauded. Eckman certainly did her homework and stitching. Debra Knapp's choreography of a '30s dance routine at the end of the first act is a hoot.

Each cast member must take a bow. Algernon D'Ammassa, whose work in BBT's "Crime and Punishment" was impressive, continues to please. His character is the "glue" that holds the story together. As Hannay, he does not have the wavy hair mentioned over and over in the script, but he does deliver his lines with alacrity, charm and wit, and a pencil-thin mustache.

A newcomer from New York City, Emily Campion makes a fine debut as the only female actor in the cast. Her English, Scottish and German accents, coupled with her alluring looks and good acting range, make her just right in her three fetching roles. Her comic timing is excellent.

And now to the "heavy lifting" parts. Two "clowns" must play close to 100 roles between both of them - some male, some female, some English, some Scottish, some German, some appearing on the stage for a fleeting few seconds. We are so lucky to be able to watch these two performers "do their stuff," nicely assisted by a backstage crew who make magic happen on a minimalist set, enhanced with outstanding rear projections.

David Reyes, a recent transplant from Kansas City, Mo., armed with an abundance of acting experience, really outdoes himself in so many "over-the-top" roles in this show, and he deserves special praise. I hope we see much more of him in future productions.

Whether he is the villain of the play, Dr. Jordan, the wife of the Scottish Innkeeper or a jovial vaudeville performer, he performs each role to the hilt.

It is hard to believe that Dustin Hadfield is only a junior in high school. His maturity, stage presence and remarkable comic timing is something special to behold. How fortunate that we have more years of seeing him both at the Black Box and New Mexico State University.

The mystery of the meaning behind "The 39 Steps" will be for me to know and you to figure out between humor, gun shots, stage fog and guffaws as this extraordinary comedy plays out before your eyes.

Bravo to all. Make your reservations now. The play may be extended, and I am hoping it will, because this is the type of show that makes experiencing live theater so important.

"The 39 Steps" kicks off the 2011-12 No Strings season and runs through Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, and 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29. Tickets are $10 regular admission, $9 for students and seniors over 65 and all seats on Thursdays are $7. To reserve tickets, call 523-1223.


No seating plan has been posted.



We will be using our regular ticketing system for The Super Secret Improv Show #2. Seating will be limited to 33 and if there are any seats not reserved by 4 hours before the show they will be available on a first come first served basis at the door starting at 6:45. Please call the theatre first to see if there are seats available.

Our next regular production is Every Brilliant Thing. The normal ticketing system will be used but you may only select the number of seats you require and we will assign seats to comply with NM Covid requirements. The stage is 10 feet from the first row. You may request row 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 and we will do our best to honor your request. Please see the event pages for details.

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