Arts and Entertainment

Renton Civic Theatre opens season on Friday with 'The 39 Steps'

The Renton Civic Theatre opens its 2013-14 season tonight, with an unusual take on the Alfred Hitchcock classic "The 39 Steps."

The theatre is calling the production a mix of Hitchcock and "a dash of Monty Python," in a "fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre." What's so different about this version of "The 39 Steps" is that, for starters, more than 150 characters are played by a cast of four people. Sound dizzying?

Director John Munn brings the play by Patrick Barlow to the Renton stage. There's an on-stage plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers and, of course, romance. The small cast is made up of actors who have performed on stages throughout the Puget Sound.

Actor Bob De Dea plays Richard Hannay in "The 39 Steps." He's acted previously at Renton Civic Theatre as well as on other area stages from The Village Theatre, in Issaquah, to Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre.

Eric Hartley returns to the Renton stage, after appearing in last season's "A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum." Hartley plays Clown 2 in "The 39 Steps." The show will be his 30th production at Renton Civic Theatre.

Deya Ozburn will play Annabella Schmidt and Pamela Margaret. The local actor was on stage in Renton last season as Mrs. Van Daan, in "The Diary of Anne Frank."

Bryan Bender will play Clown 1. Also a local actor, Bender is said to have acted in a feature film called "The Gamers: Hands of Fate."

Following "The 39 Steps," the Renton Civic Theatre has a very ambitious line-up planned for their stage season, with "And Then There Were None," in October; "She Loves Me," in December; "Boeing-Boeing," in February; and "Office Hours," in April to close out the season.

"I'm really excited for this season and love seeing each show come to life on the stage," said Michelle Bettinger, in an email.

She is one of the nine Renton Civic Theatre board members.

Artistic Director Bill Huls looks at hundreds of options for shows every year and makes suggestions to board members, she said. His picks are based on factors like audience feedback, which he uses to create a well-rounded season.

"Our direction is two-fold; we are always focused on presenting first-class entertainment on the stage at Renton Civic Theatre and we are working to provide more educational offerings for the community," Bettinger said.

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