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When a serious who-dunnit becomes a hilarious comedy

Lorraine Graves   Mar-08-2019

When a serious mystery snaps, it becomes a madcap musical comedy at Circle Bright Productions’ 'The 39 Steps.'

Photo by David Cooper


The good news is, you haven’t missed it but, you’ll have to move quickly if you want to get tickets before the final performance on March 10 at the Norman Rothstein Theatre for Circle Bright Productions’ musical comedy “The 39 Steps.”

Richmondite Tegan Klancnik (pronounced like “clans nick”) does the props and scenic art for the production that integrates many cultures. Just as the original story of the book spanned cultures—written by a Scot who was then governor-general of Canada, about spies throughout England and Europe—so too does this play span genres and cultures.

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In what is supposed to be an old movie theatre, a film performance of the film noire classic, “The 39 Steps” begins to play. Things do not go as planned when the film breaks.

“It’s a movie within a play,” Klancnik says, “and sometimes the movie is going to kick back in. We are trying to appeal to movie buffs as well, trying to bring in a different demographic by bridging the cultural gap between movie-goers and theatre fans—people who might be Hitchcock buffs, trying to entice some folks in.”

Besides appealing to film noire, mystery, comedy and musical theatre fans, Circle Bright Productions works to bridge cultural and linguistic gaps by also appealing to the Chinese community. The entire production is surtitled, as we find in operas, with simplified Chinese translation so both the English-speaking and those more comfortable in a Chinese language can enjoy the production.

The mix is reflective of the mix Klancnik grew up with in her home town.

“I lived with my mom in an apartment on Westminster near Garden City Lands.”

Describing herself as a free range kid, Klancnik says: “My grandparents lived on Ash, right behind the elementary school and they’d pick me up every day after school, back in the days when there were ditches to play in. I definitely played in them.”

Also going to classes in her home city, Klancnik looks back in time as well as forward to the new production.

“My theatre roots are definitely in Richmond. I owe my gratitude to being a professional theatre artist to that. I’m excited about this production,” Klancnik says. “There are surprises in the sets I’m working on.”

With four performances left, “The 39 Steps” runs through Sunday, March 10 at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on 41st Street and Oak in Vancouver.

Click for tickets.


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