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A four-man show: Leeds Center debuts ‘The 39 Steps’ tonight

How many people does it take to portray more than 150 different characters on the stage?

Only four, if the play in question is “The 39 Steps.”

Opening tonight at Leeds Center for the Arts for a two-weekend run, the tiny cast will carry the audience through a spy drama and whodunnit based on director Alfred Hitchcock’s film of the same name.

The play, though, is for laughs instead serious skulduggery.

“We wanted to do a small show that featured acting,” Winchester Council for the Arts President Tracey Miller said. “It’s very fast-paced. It takes you across the English countryside and into Scotland.”

The cast includes Winchester resident Ryan Case, Laurie Preston, Greg Collier and Drew Davidson, she said. Only the male lead keeps the same role throughout the entire play. The female lead plays three roles while the other two play everyone else.

“Clown 1 and 2 have multiple jackets and a number of hats, props and wigs,” Miller said. “When they change a hat, they push to another character.”

Beyond the quick-change nature of the script, there’s also a lot of entertainment.

“The amount of physical comedy, I don’t know how they do it every night,” Miller said. “It’s a constant frenetic pace… (Monday) night we laughed so hard we cried.”

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, beginning tonight and closing April 30.

Tickets are $18 for adults or $12 for children at leedscenter.org.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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