Saturday, September 19th, 2015

MIX a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have Limelight Theatre’s latest production, The 39 Steps.

Adapted from the John Buchan novel by Patrick Barlow, it is best known from the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film adaptation – Barlow turned the spy thriller into a comedy in 2005 with four actors playing a wide variety of roles.

The two-time Tony and Drama Desk Award winner has played extensively in London’s West End and on Broadway and is the fifth longest-running play in West End history.

In The 39 Steps, Richard Hannay seeks a frivolous night out at the theatre and is lured into a world of intrigue by a mysterious woman claiming to be a spy.

When she winds up dead in his flat, he flees London with the police hot on his trail and experiences a series of misadventures and old-fashioned romance.

Director James Hough-Neilson said he had previously seen the Broadway and West End productions of The 39 Steps.

“It’s a play not to be missed because it’s extremely funny,” he said. “I was asked to direct the show for Limelight Theatre by a member of the cast.

“It’s a very challenging play to present and I decided to rise to the challenge.

The 39 Steps must be performed at a great pace and the comedy timing has to be spot on.

“There are something like 110 sound and musical effects, not to mention the physical efforts required by the cast.”

A professional actor, on and off, for the past 62 years, Hough-Neilson has a wealth of experience behind him – and then some.

He studied at London Drama School, then spent three years learning and performing a play a week in repertory theatre and appeared in the number one West End play Summer Seasons. Numerous UK television appearances followed, along with radio work and various commercials.

In WA, Hough-Neilson has worked with Stirling, Limelight and Playlovers Theatres over the past 25 years, performing in or directing productions such as Breaker Morant, Showboat, The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, My Fair Lady, The Importance of Being Earnest, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Hobson’s Choice.

His 2006 production of The Judas Kiss at Playlovers received best director, best play, best costumes and best supporting actor accolades at the annual Finley Awards.

“I have retired from directing three times but keep being persuaded back!” Hough-Neilson said.

“With The 39 Steps, I have an extremely talented team of people around me and the rehearsals are going well – I defy anyone not to have good laugh.”

The 39 Steps plays at 8pm October 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17. Tickets are $21, $18 concession, $16 children – book on 0499 954 016 between 9am and midday, Monday to Friday, or at  

Limelight Theatre is located on Civic Drive, Wanneroo.



39steps-A: Gordon Park, Gino Cataldo, Emma Shaw and Andrew Govey are appearing in The 39 Steps at Limelight Theatre.

39steps-B: Richard Hannay (Gino Cataldo, left) and Pamela (Emma Shaw) finds themselves shackled together in The 39 Steps.

39steps-D: In The 39 Steps, Gordon Park, left, and Andrew Govey play all manner of different individuals – both male and female and young and old – while adopting various appropriate accents.

39steps-E: Gino Cataldo (left), Gordon Park (centre top), Andrew Govey (centre bottom) and Emma Shaw are mixing up a Hitchcock masterpiece and juicy spy novel in The 39 Steps.


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Limelight Theatre

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2013, Limelight Theatre is home of Wanneroo Repertory on Civic Drive, Wanneroo, in Perth's northern suburbs, located next to the Aquamotion Centre, opposite the memorial.

The theatre is always pleased to welcome new members, whether they want to act, direct, paint a set or simply receive monthly news.

James Hough-Neilson
P: 08 9401 2558


The 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock, John Buchan, comedy, play, Limelight Theatre, Monty Python, spy thriller, performing arts



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