Students Jump Into The 39 Steps


Thomas Mills/Marlin Chronicle

By Nathan VanRensselaer

This years fall production, The 39 Steps, features a cast of four characters and promises to be a great show. With an abundance of great shows in the past, the new actors and actresses have a lot to live up to. The 39 Steps is a well-known production however it is notorious for being very challenging.

With freshman Amber Swenson, junior Khari Johnson, freshman Nicholas Hipple and senior Paul Kaufman all performing in multiples roles throughout the performance, it proves to be a very perplexing show. Of the four actors in the show, two of them are newly christened college actors or actresses. With two others being upperclassmen, the freshman must attempt to live up to the high expectations of our Virginia Wesleyan theatre program.

The whole crew is doing well, but when asked about the freshman in particular, Dr. Travis Malone, associate professor of theater, said, “They’re still in their roles.”

Freshman Nicholas Hipple is the protagonist of the play, Richard Hannay, who began his acting career seven years ago. Hipple was chosen out of many options not only for his fit for the role but because Dr. Malone needed someone “who is ultimately best for the character,” and Hipple fit that role perfectly.

With such demanding roles, all four of the cast members need to be able to attend rehearsals, adding to the demands of the cast members. With meetings and practices every weeknight, the actors are being pushed to improve every day. By opening night, the cast must know the production backwards and forwards.

Malone, who is directing the production, said the four actors and actresses were right for each part. Of the 24 auditions, he chose these actors for an array of reasons. When looking for a cast, a director must analyze each audition to find the best fit for each character.

The fact that half of his cast are freshman did not faze him.

The actors chosen were chosen for a reason, including the fact that each actor wanted to put more than 100 percent into the production. Enthusiasm is key.

“The opportunity to act in a Hitchcock based play is surreal for a college freshman. It is amazing to learn from senior and junior actors along with Dr. Malone,” said Hipple.

Not only have the new actors and actresses learned a lot from their co-stars and director, but they have learned a lot from themselves.

When the time comes to attend the fall play, the fact that freshman are premiering may bring in more of a crowd.

“I’m excited to see people from my class that I know, in the play,” said freshmen Duncan Miller.

With this promising cast and such a seasoned director, there is no doubt that the production will be memorable.

While the original 39 Steps is set in London in 1935, the new 39 Steps is in Norfolk, 2014. Performances begin Wednesday, Oct. 1 in the Hofheimer Theater.The event is free to the campus community, and reservations are recommended. For information about tickets and showtimes, call 455-3381.