HARVARD -- Mystery and drama filled the volunteer room of the Harvard Public Library March 2 as a standing-room-only crowd listed to the radio play "The 39 Steps." Local actors on stage performed a dramatic reading of the play just like the radio plays in the 30s and 40s. Sound effects such as footsteps, doors creaking, gunshots and phones ringing enhanced the atmosphere. The radio play was adapted by Joe Landry from Alfred Hitchcock's famous 1935 film.

Bob Eiland of Harvard produced and directed the show and played Richard Hannay, a man accused of a murder he didn't commit and hunted by British police and German spies. The story follows Hannay's escape to Scotland, where he tries to learn the secret of the 39 steps before he is caught. He gets help along the way from a reluctant Pamela Stewart, played by JulieAnn Govang.

The audience roared with laughter during a pause in the play when, as part of the show, Tim Clark and Didi Chadran read a concocted police report from the Harvard Police blotter about escaped goats and a couple on Prospect Hill caught in an awkward situation. For folks in Harvard it was an inside joke -- the account was not that farfetched compared to what routinely appears in the blotter. The drama was interspersed with local commercials sung by trio Mary Helan Turner, JulieAnn Govang and Joan Eliyesil. They recreated the singing style of 1940s "Andrews Sisters."

As was typical of original radio plays, actors played multiple parts.


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The cast included Didi Chadran, Tim Clark, Keith Myles and Mary Helan Turner. Bill Cordner and Danno Sullivan handled sound and Joan Eliyesil played the keyboard. Judy Wong and Chris Frechette took care of stage management, props and refreshments.

The radio play was presented by the Harvard Friends of the Arts.