After winning its 20th region crown, Harlem High School Drama is gearing for the state championships by presenting its championship play, Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps , to local theater enthusiasts on Thursday at the school.
The 1935 film was revised for the stage but still centers on a Canadian man in London who is mistakenly accused of murder. He leads police on a wild chase through the Scottish moors and then back to London in his search for the real killer.
"This story is so multifaceted," said Harlem High drama director Roy Lewis. "It's a murder. It's a love story. It's intrigue. It's espionage. It's a chase across the whole country."
The complexities of the play were matched by the complexity of staging it.
"It's always a challenge to overcome the obstacles ... we encountered with every run of this show," Lewis said. "Every time we do this show, something happens -- a prop breaks, a curtain falls, a transition is not made, or a costume change is not done. It never fails."
Though the drama club had to overcome numerous difficulties, the result proved worth the effort.
Last month, the school won Region 3-AAA and the Georgia Theater Conference with The 39 Steps . The students will stage it again Saturday for a state competition in Warner Robins, Ga., then twice more for the Georgia Thespian Conference in February and the Southeastern Theater Conference in March.
In addition to winning best play at the Georgia Theater Conference, the school also won best director for Lewis, best costumes, best technical production, all-star cast, and best supporting actors for Bo Birdsong and Kyle Odum.
"They play like 15 different roles," Lewis said of Birdsong and Odum. "They're playing men, women, spies, salesmen, pilots, policemen -- they do it all. They're also changing accents from standard English, cockney English, Scottish, German and Russian."
At the region contest, Aaron Johnson won best actor; Catin Downing won best actress; and Birdsong and Odum won for all-star cast.
It was the eighth consecutive region contest Harlem High has won in drama. The school also is on a roll of two consecutive state championships, out of five overall, which came while it was competing against AAAA schools.
This year marks the school's return to AAA.
"The AAA folks are not real happy that we've come back," Lewis joked.
Tickets for Thursday's performance are $7 each, with the funds going to help the drama club with travel expenses.
For information, contact the school by calling (706) 556-5980, or visit online at www.harlem-drama.com.
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