Monday, April 11, 2011

Quick Hit Theater Review: The 39 Steps -- Hartford Stage

Christina Pumariega, Steve French, Robert Eli and Noble Shropshire. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps
Hartford Stage
Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the film, taken from the novel by John Buchan
Directed by Maxwell Williams

A tongue-in-cheek retelling of the classic film about a man who stumbles upon an espionage plot to smuggle vital war time secrets out of England to Nazi Germany, complete with a chase aboard a speeding train. It will make you laugh whether you've seen the film or not and if you're a fan of the film or Hitchcock, there is a lot of humor especially for you.

Very clever staging and spoofy effects (including lighting with stick puppets). Robert Eli stars as the man pulled into the intrigue of dozens of characters -- some created at the literal drop of a hat -- played by the other three cast members: Steve French, Noble Shropshire and Christina Pumariega. All are skilled.

The pace is off, so that some of the gags and sarcasm seem staged instead of spontaneous.

More information:
The 39 Steps runs through May 1 at Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., Hartford. Tickets are $23 to $69 with various discounts available and can be purchased by calling 860-527-5151 or by visiting

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced
numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont
Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.”

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway
League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill
Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at She
is editor of The award-winning Connecticut Arts Connection (,

She is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Contributing Editor for, Connecticut theater editor
for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web. Yarger is a book reviewer and writer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented
by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle (awards committee).

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts,
the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

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