“Am I allowed to know your name?”
    “Anabella Schmitt.”
    The chuckles start early in the dialogue as the woman named Schmitt spits out the final “t” in her name, nearly making it into a second syllable — “Schmitt-AH!” — and causing the man with whom she is speaking, Richard Hannay, to recoil as she all but spits in his eye.
    Schmitt and Englishman Hannay are characters in the Brownwood High School Theatre’s One-Act Play performance of “The 39 Steps,” a 1935-era spy farce set in London and Scotland. Schmitt is portrayed by Brownwood High senior McKenna McDonald, and Hannay is portrayed by junior Mitchell Doud.
    “The 39 Steps” has been a major success for the theatre department: the actors will perform it at state UIL competition in Austin on May 23. It’s the first time since 1979 a Brownwood High One-Act Play has made it to state.
    Several of the cast members performed a few scenes Wednesday afternoon in the Dorothy McIntosh Fine Arts Center, where the play has already been performed for live audiences and will be performed twice more before the group heads for state.
    “This next step is going to be monumental,” said cast member Kamrey Windham, who plays a character named Pamela Edwards. “Chances like this don’t come often. It’s a huge, huge honor.”
    Cast members noted that theatre director Shannon Lee has produced a state competitor in just her second year at Brownwood High, but Lee said the credit goes to the cast members for their hard work.
    Hard work and teamwork, Lee and cast members said, noting that they’ve been together working constantly on the show for four to five months.
    “You do not always like each other, but you’ve got to love each other,” Lee said.
    There is plenty of like, and plenty of love evident among cast members and their director.
    McKenna, playing the German woman, Schmitt, speaks all of her lines in a German accent. McKenna said she’d been worried about whether she could do it, but another actor taught her the accent.
    Mitchell speaks his line in a proper British accent, which he learned to do because his grandmother is British.
    To make it to state, the cast and crew of “The 39 Steps” had to survive several rounds of lower competition including region, held last month at Texas Tech University.
    At the end of the competition, it was announced that Brownwood High School’s “The 39 Steps” will be one of two schools from Region to advance to state.
    There was a gasp from cast members, then four seconds of stunned silence as they tried to absorb the announcement. Then they erupted in cheering and a few tears.
    The crew also received some huge technical awards at region, including Best Lighting Technician for Jason Sanchez and Best Stage Manager for Kyle Cummings, Lee said.
    At state, the 15 cast members and three crew members will be in front of an audience of 3,000 — and three judges. Brownwood High will be one of eight schools at the competition.
    “Honestly, it still hasn’t sunk in for me,” Kamrey said.            
    Live performances will be held at Brownwood High at 7 p.m. Friday, May 13, and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 15. Tickets are $5.