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New cast takes 39 Steps

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 18 April 2008

West End regulars Simon Paisley Day, Josefina Gabrielle and Martyn Ellis are to join original cast member Simon Gregor in The 39 Steps. The incoming trio replace Robert Portal, Rachel Pickup and Jimmy Chisholm in the production that won the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. The threesome’s first performance at the Criterion is on 22 October.

Day joins the production as Richard Hannay, a man falsely accused of murder who goes on the run while attempting to clear his name. The show, which was first seen in London at the Tricycle, before transferring to the Criterion in September 2006, is based on the John Buchan novel and the famous Hitchcock film. The four actors play myriad characters between them, and the show includes the film’s most memorable scenes.

Day, who, portraying the central character, has only one role to worry about, holds the record of being Trevor Nunn’s most employed actor during his tenure as Artistic Director of the National Theatre. His most recent London credits include The Philanthropist at the Donmar Warehouse and Anything Goes at Drury Lane.

Gabrielle has a couple more roles than Day in The 39 Steps, playing Annabella Schmidt, Pamela and Margaret. Like Day, Gabrielle has also found success under the directorship of Nunn, receiving a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for her performance in the National’s famous production of Oklahoma!. More recently, Gabrielle has slipped in and out of Roxie Hart’s fishnet tights in Chicago.

Ellis was recently seen in London at the Piccadilly, playing Nicely Nicely Johnson in the Michael Grandage-directed revival of Guys And Dolls. His 39 Steps debut will see him reunited with Gregor who played Timon to his Pumba in the original London cast of The Lion King. Together the duo plays the plethora of other roles in the show.

The 39 Steps will also be spreading a smile across New York from January 2008, as a transfer, starring original Hannay, Charles Edwards, opens at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s American Airlines Theatre on Broadway. Edwards is joined in the cast by Arnie Burton, Jennifer Ferrin and Cliff Saunders.

The 39 Steps at the Criterion is currently booking until 7 June 2008. em>MA

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