Stephen Joseph Theatre is all set for summer

Four actors play 130 characters in a stage production of The 39 Steps, which opens the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s summer season this month.

Described by the SJT as hilarious, the adaptation has played to packed houses in the West End and on Broadway – but started life in North Yorkshire.

Based on John Buchan’s book and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film, it was adapted in 1995 for the Yorkshire Dales-based North Country Theatre then rewritten in 2005 for the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

The cast of 39 Steps

The cast of 39 Steps

The adaptation received its London premiere in 2006. It transferred a year later to the West End where it played until 2016, becoming the fifth longest-running play in the West End’s history.

It played on Broadway from 2008-10 and has been produced in many other countries. It has won an Olivier award and two Tonys.

The 39 Steps can be seen in the Round (21 Jun-23 Aug).

It will be followed by a 40th anniversary revival of one of Alan Ayckbourn’s most popular plays, directed by the author.

First seen at the SJT’s previous home at Westwood in 1978, Joking Apart is set in a couple’s garden over 12 years on four festive occasions: Bonfire Night, a summer tennis party, Boxing Day and their daughter’s 18th birthday.

Richard and Anthea are the perfect couple, to whom everything comes easily and whose genuine generosity, success and sensitivity seem to reflect badly on those around them.

Joking Apart can be seen in the Round (26 Jul-4 Oct).

Better Off Dead, Ayckbourn’s 82nd play, is a comedy of confusion about a grumpy old man who might not be so grumpy after all.

Highly irascible author Algy is hard at work on his 33rd crime novel featuring blunt Yorkshire cop Tommy. But it’s been a while since Tommy was on the TV, Algy’s wife is getting frighteningly forgetful and his adoring PA sometimes oversteps the mark.

The premiere production of Better Off Dead can be seen in the Round from 6 September to 6 October.

The Better Off Dead programme artwork

The Better Off Dead programme artwork

In the SJT’s McCarthy auditorium, Scarborough-born playwright and actor Christopher York will premiere his play set in the town.

The stand-out piece of last summer’s series of one-night play-readings, Build a Rocket follows the fortunes of a young single mum who wants the best for her little boy. But what happens when she can’t help with his homework any more because it’s too difficult?

Build a Rocket can be seen in the McCarthy (31 Aug-8 Sep).

For younger members of the family, the SJT’s OutReach department continues its ever-popular Tiny Time Tales.

Moonbeam’s Magical Mission is by award-winning children’s author Guy Bass, who wrote a Tiny Time Tale last summer, The Tales of Tipsy Willow Tree. It can be seen on Saturday mornings, with a different adventure each week (28 Jul-25 Aug).

The theatre will present a series of rehearsed play-readings including Prince of Hearts by Ros Adler (6 Jul); A Plate of Elvers by Clare Bayley (12 Jul); Imaginationship by Sue Healy (16 Aug); Five Years by Sonali Bhattacharyya (23 Aug) and Icarus Drowning by Sandy Foster (19 Sep).

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