BHS Presents "The 39 Steps"

BHS Presents "The 39 Steps"
Posted on 03/02/2021
When Binghamton High School’s Rod Serling School of Fine Arts presents their annual play “The 39 Steps” - it’ll be from a safe distance. The one-time streaming performance will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, March 19.

The Alfred Hitchcock film by the same name is in the spotlight here, with the play a stage parody of the horror genre master’s work. The story originally came in the form of a 1915 John Buchan spy novel. In 1935, Hitchcock added his twist, and today the show contains a dash of Monty Python, all leading to an intriguing, thrilling, riotous and unmissable comedy, according to one on-line synopsis.

Due to current safety protocol there will be no live performance, and no audience in attendance at the Helen Foley Theatre. In addition, all students rehearsed remotely this year. On the upside, “The 39 Steps” lends itself to the world’s current challenges. That wasn’t by chance said Ariana Koniuto, drama teacher and director at the Rod Serling School.

“We’d done a radio play in the past that worked really well, so we thought this could work well for what we needed to do,” Koniuto said. “The actors are able to adapt to the COVID restrictions, as opposed to taking a play and navigating all the uncertainties in other ways. Also, everyone is familiar with the name Alfred Hitchcock. We felt it would attract an audience and still showcase our students’ talents.”

Larry Kassan, coordinator of special events and theater for the Binghamton district, said COVID presents new challenges for such school performances. There are various COVID protocols for the fine arts.

“For example, when we’re performing music, string players can be 6 feet apart wearing masks, but a horn or woodwind player needs to be 12 feet because they are unmasked,” Kassan said.

The entire show is set in an 1930’s art deco radio station and Kassan said he integrated safety concerns into the scenic design for this performance.

“We’re using a special shotgun microphone,” he said. “It is highly sensitive and directional and located inside the prop microphone allowing the actor to be far from the microphone so we don’t need to worry about any germs being transmitted.”

State regulations require 6 feet between actors. Kassan and Koniuto said their actors, including seniors Kate Salamida and Yaseen Anderson, will be spaced 12 feet apart.

“Since we’re in a radio station we can suspend Plexiglass panels to simulate studio windows,” Kassan said.
The relatively small cast size also offers them a great deal of flexibility and Kassan said cast members will be masked whenever they are off stage.
Kassan emphasized that this is a one-time screening, and the play will not be available for later viewing. Those who want to tune in need to sign up on www.BroadwayOnDemand.com.
“This is not a live production, although it will have the look of one,” he said. “It’ll look live-to-tape, like one of the late-night talk shows. Kassan cautioned that if you sign in late the play will already be in progress.
“We’re doing our best to give the kids their moment,” Koniuto said. “We were so fortunate to get to do two of our four performances of the musical 1776 last year just prior to the shutdown. It’s great to be able to continue highlighting our musical and vocal programs during the pandemic.”

Even though it may look different from your average stage play, Koniuto said it’s a quality experience for all involved.

HOW TO WATCH

* Register ahead of time (a day or two).
* Register for a free viewing account at: www.BroadwayOnDemand.com
* Don’t be late to sign into your account or you will miss part of the show.
* The play will be streamed just once. It will not be available for viewing later.
* Because of contractual obligations, it will not be archived.
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