The 39 Steps, which opened at the Criterion two years ago this month, celebrates its birthday by announcing a further extension to its run and a new cast member. On 13 October Tessa Churchard takes over from Josefina Gabrielle to play the three female roles in this comedy thriller, which is now booking until 6 September 2009.
Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film, The 39 Steps is a spoof thriller following the inadvertent adventures of Richard Hannay, a bored London gentleman who finds himself on the run after a woman is found murdered in his apartment. Maria Aitken directs a cast of four, who play a multitude of characters and recreate every scene from Hitchcock’s hitherto unstageable movie, including the first ever theatrical bi-plane crash.
Churchard joins existing cast members Jo Stone-Fewings (Hannay), Alan Perrin and Nigel Betts to play the production's trio of ladies – mysterious Annabella, prim Pamela and farmer’s wife Margaret.
The actress’s previous London stage credits include As You Desire Me at the Playhouse, Noises Off at the Piccadilly and Comedy, and Remember This at the National Theatre. On television Churchard has been seen in Doctors, Family Affairs and Jeeves And Wooster.
After originating at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, The 39 Steps enjoyed a pre-West End run at the Tricycle before opening at the Criterion on 20 September 2006. It went on to win Best New Comedy at the Laurence Olivier Awards the following year. The subsequent Broadway production collected two Tony Awards in this year’s ceremony.