Dynamic Duo

Send in 39 Steps' Dynamic Duo Arnie Burton & Billy Carter! Get to Know These Clowns Better

June 2nd, 2015 by

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Send in 39 Steps' Dynamic Duo Arnie Burton & Billy Carter...

When you think of a stage adaptation of a Hitchcock film, there’s no way you’re expecting to laugh as much and as hard as you will watching Arnie Burton and Billy Carter as the clowns in off-Broadway’s 39 Steps. The two comedy chameleons embody at least a dozen different characters in the fast-paced play, and it’s an absolute joy to experience. Burton (left) is a long-time vet of the show—having played Clown #2 for years on Broadway—and Carter (right) is new to the production, and below BroadwayBox talks to them about coming at this production from two different sides to create their memorable stage duo.

39 Steps off Broadway

Photo by Joan Marcus



My first impression of my co-star was:

Arnie:
It was at the callbacks for 39 Steps. I was reading with the actors auditioning for the other clown and Billy came in and was just so open, very funny and brought a sweetness to his characters. When he left the room the director, Maria Aitken and I knew he was the one.

Billy:
I didn't know Arnie before I started 39 but when actor friends knew I was to begin work on it, I'd receive a text or email saying how much I'm going to love working with him. And they were right!! I found him to be very open with a cheeky glint in his eye. I work hard in rehearsals but love a sense of humor about it and felt Arnie was something similar. What a relief he was and knew it was going to be a good pairing.


I think our most memorable rehearsal had to have been:

Arnie:
I can’t remember one particular rehearsal but I do remember Billy's face when we were staging the clowns dismantling of the car. He looked like "what the hell have I got myself into?"

Billy:
Most likely to be in the third week of rehearsals for this one. You have to remember that Arnie had performed 39 Steps over 700 performances in a 3 year period on Broadway. I hadn't even seen it. I was working back to basics and during this time was bogged down by the technicalities that come with the show and wondered how it all worked. It could be easy for another actor in Arnie’s position to lose patience or suggest “Well the last time we did it" This was not the case with Arnie and our "Dynamic Duo" grew together. Thank you, Arnie.


The scene we have the most fun in now:

Arnie:
The train scene where we play a couple of pervy underwear salesmen is my favorite at the moment. It is one of those moments when we are really working on all cylinders as a team to foil our leading man (Robert Petkoff).

Billy:
If I had to choose I'd say the Salesmen on the train. This is one of the longer sections and demands a fair amount of precision in timing from both of us. I feel this is a great example of a good duo.


My favorite character to watch him play each night is:

Arnie:
Mrs. Jordan. Posh + drunk +lasciviousness + drag = hilarious.

Billy:
Mrs. McGarrigle wins this one. Simply because he looks ridiculous.


I think our performances gel so well together because:

Arnie:
Because he is the ying to my yang.

Billy:
We both share a love of old movies and I was brought up watching re-runs of the old Ealing Studio Comedies back in the UK. 39 Steps has many of these ingredients that we both relish and understand.


Off-stage, my co-star and I bond over:

Arnie:
Desert Island Disks, Kenneth Williams, Acorn Antiques, and Coke Zero. (Google all but Coke Zero).

Billy:
The Life and Times of Kenneth Williams and a foam roller.


I’m in awe of my co-star’s ability to:

Arnie:
Besides his acting ability, his kindness.

Billy:
With his history with the show, his enthusiasm, discipline and respect of the material every night is second to none.


If I had to describe my co-star in a song, it would be:

Arnie:
“When Irish Eyes Are Smiling".

Billy:
Benny Hill's 'Ernie' Which i now rename 'Arnie :The Fastest Milkman In The West'

You have to see these two in action to believe it, so hurry over to the Union Square Theatre to see ’39 Steps’.