“The 39 Steps” is following the lead of “Avenue Q,” stepping from Broadway to an Off Broadway stint at New World Stages.
The show is no stranger to venue switchups. The comic redux of the 1935 Hitchcock film had its New York bow at the Roundabout’s American Airlines Theater in January 2008, and has since played at the Cort Theater and then the Helen Hayes, where the show shuttered Jan. 10.
The move to Off Broadway seems a logical one for the production. Show has eked out an existence on Broadway with weekly grosses that were largely consistent but never particularly high by Rialto standards. They were nonetheless enough to sustain the low running costs of the small-scale production with four actors.
Producers, led by Bob Boyett and Harriet Newman Leve, have said they intended to target the show’s marketing to the tourist crowd, including international visitors who can understand the play’s fast-paced physical comedy regardless of any language barrier.
The production can now move on to an Off Broadway venue — where productions costs are lower — and still hope to benefit from the profile established during its two years on the Rialto.
“Steps” is still playing in London, where the show bowed before crossing the Atlantic, and also has had runs in Australia, Japan, Italy and other international territories.
The trail from Broadway to Off Broadway was blazed last year when Main Stem longrunner “Avenue Q” shuttered at Broadway’s Golden Theater and reopened at New World Stages. The uncommon move allows a legit property to continue to run in the face of tapering turnout, and without shouldering the higher costs of Broadway tenancy.
No cast for the Off Broadway staging of “39 Steps” has been announced. Arnie Burton, Jeffrey Kuhn, Sean Mahon and Jill Paice were in the most recent Rialto ensemble. “Steps” begins Off Broadway perfs March 25.