Palmyra actor to play 15 characters in Hitchcock movie turned play

Jim Teesdale is a graduate of Palmyra High School class of 2000.

Palmyra actor Jim Teesdale is a man of many talents. He sings, dances, does voiceovers and, most recently, portrays 15 characters in the same play.

“I had to have a German, a Scottish, an Irish and an English accent, but the biggest challenge is that I have multiple British characters, I have multiple Scottish characters and they have to sound different,” Teesdale said.

Teesdale is acting in the whodunit spoof play “The 39 Steps.” Set in 1935 London, the play follows a man with a mundane life who meets a woman with a thick accent who claims she’s a spy. Later that night, the woman is murdered. A mysterious organization called “The 39 Steps” is hot on the man’s trail.

“The 39 Steps” was originally a novel by John Buchan, then an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but Teesdale says the play, adapted by Patrick Barlow, is a total spoof. The Hitchcock meets “Monty Python” production is much more comical than the book or movie.

“If [you have] read the book or seen the movie, throw that out the window and just get ready to laugh,” Teesdale said.

The 150-character play is played by a cast of only four actors.

“There’s amazing talent with these characters. The other three actors are fantastic,” Teesdale said. “The way that you’re supposed to look at it is that there are four actors who are trying to put on a movie that has all these different characters, but things can go a little haywire.”

Teesdale added this play frequently breaks the fourth wall, with members of the crew and tech team getting involved with the jokes.

Teesdale has worked with the New Jersey Renaissance Faire portraying a number of zany characters for years, which he says has prepared him for this production. The 2000 Palmyra High School graduate and U.S. Navy veteran did a voiceover for Virginia Beach pop-punk band Audiostrobelight’s music video “California Gold Rush,” just completed a two-year run with Wise Kraken Comedy Improv and played Henry Knox in the George Washington Documentary “The First American.”

While Teesdale participated in the theater program at Palmyra High School, he says his love for theater began much earlier.

“My mother was a director and she would always bring me to all the different plays,” Teesdale said. “I’ve basically been on stage since about 7 years old.”

Seventeen years after his senior year of high school, Teesdale still remembers his last play with the Palmyra High School theater program was “Little Women.”

Teesdale says what he loves most about acting is the reaction he can evoke from an audience.

“A person can be having a bad day, but an actor can take you out of reality for a couple of hours and just bring you some joy and make you think,” Teesdale said. “It’s a fantastic way to help that person out.”

The Home of the Road Company will present “The 39 Steps” at Grand Theater in Williamstown on Thursday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 17 at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 18 at 8 p.m., Sunday, March 19 at 2 p.m., Thursday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 24 at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 25 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $25 for adults. Discounts are available for seniors, students and groups. Prices are discounted for Thursday and Sunday showings. To purchase tickets, visit www.roadcompany.com.