“On the Twentieth Century” Opens

A Revival of a Screwball Musical Comedy

on the twentieth centuryOn March 15, 2015, On the Twentieth Century played its opening night performance at the American Airlines Theatre. Produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company, this musical is a revival of the original produced in 1978, which in turn was based off a play from 1932 by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which was based off an unpublished by Charles Bruce Millholland. Furthermore, a film entitled Twentieth Century was released in 1934 based off the Hecht and MacArthur play. This musical has book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green (Singin’ in the Rain, Bells are Ringing, Wonderful Town), and a score by Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity, City of Angels, The Will Rogers Follies, Barnum). Following its 1978 Broadway run, the show won the Tony Award for Best Book as well as the Tony Award for Best Original Score, and then transferred to the West End in 1980. With the exception of a smaller London production in 2010, this is the first major revival. Directed by Scott Ellis and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, the musical stars Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Gallagher, Mary-Louise Wilson, Michael McGrath, Andy Karl, and Mark Linn-Baker.

Overall Positive ReviewsON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

The reviews are in, and critics are generally laudatory of this production. Ben Brantley wore none of his sometime cynicism in writing that he was on cloud nine following this performance, praising the “over-the-moon” acting which is a level above over-acting. In this case, he believes the extravagant performances by Chenoweth and Gallagher, among others, served the material brilliantly, and furthermore he was delighted to see a musical revival that isn’t revived very often, in this case for the first time. Joe Dziemianowicz calls the show Broadway musical bliss, delighting in everything from David Rockwell’s art deco set of the locomotive train, to Chenoweth’s dynamite comedy and voice. Frank Scheck from the New York Post delights in the fact that they don’t make musicals, or write dialogue, like this anymore, and likewise calls the show theatrical bliss. Jesse Green in Vulture calls the revival delicious, acknowledging that there are a million reasons why the show shouldn’t work today, but that Chenoweth above all makes those reasons fall to the wayside, as the role of Lily Garland is perfectly suited to her natural gifts. David Rooney of The Hollywood Report was more on the fence, deeming that Scott Ellis is off his game and that the mock operetta style becomes tedious to watch.

Mediocre Box Office Performance

Despite these largely positive reviews, the show is still struggling at the box office. This is not surprising, because most of these critical responses were extravagantly positive especially because they did not expect to like it. The show’s title, description, and appearance seem to make it very dated, and this makes it a difficult sell at the box office. It doesn’t matter that the show defies expectations, because you have to buy a ticket to find that out. In the full week of performances following the release of these reviews, the show’s weekly gross went up by only $75,479, bringing it to a gross of $466,078 across eight performances. This is only 56.69% of the week’s gross potential. Still, the Roundabout is managing to fill many of its seats, as the show did average over 100% of audience capacity in the last two weeks. However, with a top ticket price of $229.00, the average paid admission was $80.30, showing a heavy amount of discounting. Fortunately, the Roundabout is equipped to handle these numbers as a not-for-profit theatre company.

“On the Twentieth Century” Begins Previews

A Roundabout Production at the American Airlines Theatre

on the twentieth centuryOn February 13, 2015, On the Twentieth Century begins previews at the American Airlines Theatre. Produced by the non-for-profit Broadway and Off-Broadway powerhouse Roundabout Theatre Company, this revival marks the third Broadway production of the musical. With book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Cy Coleman, it first premiered in 1978, directed by Harold Prince. The 2015 revival is directed by Scott Ellis, who has recently helmed such works as The Elephant Man, You Can’t Take It With You, Harvey, Curtains, and The Little Dog Laughed. He is also the Roundabout Adams Associate Artistic Director, and has been nominated for six Tony Awards. Opening night is scheduled for March 12, 2015, and it is scheduled to be a limited engagement that closes on July 5, 2015. If it is successful, it may extend through the end of summer.

Cast and Creative Team

The musical stars Kristin Chenoweth, who is well known for being the original Glinda in Wicked (Tony kristin chenowethnomination), has won a Tony Award for her performance of Sally Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and who has also branched into television with such shows as The West Wing and Pushing Daisies. Alongside Chenoweth will be Peter Gallagher (The Country Girl, Noises Off, “the O.C.”, “American Beauty”), Andy Karl (Rocky Balboa in Rocky the Musical), Mark Linn-Baker (Relatively Speaking, Losing Louie), Michael McGrath (Tony Award winner for Nice Work if You Can Get It), and Mary Louise Wilson (The Women, Cabaret, The Importance of Being Earnest). The choreographer is Warren Carlyle, who won a Tony Award for his choreography for After Midnight, which he also directed). Scenic design is by David Rockwell, lighting is by Donald Holder, sound design is by Jon Weston, and costume design is by William Ivey Long. The musical director is Kevin Stites, and orchestrations are by Larry Hochman, with dance arrangements and incidental music by David Krane.

The Twentieth Century: A Luxury Train

 

peter gallagher kristin chenoweth

The musical’s title refers to being aboard a luxury train called the Twentieth Century, which is traveling from Chicago to New York. The business aboard the train is, not coincidentally, the theatre business. A temperamental actress named Lily Garland (Kristin Chenoweth) is at odds with her flailing producer named Oscar Jaffee (Peter Gallagher). He is at once trying to woo her romantically, and at the same time to play the lead part in his upcoming show, which has not yet been written. The musical is a screwball comedy, with elements of farce as well as operetta. The musical is based on a straight play of the same name from 1932, written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which was turned into a film in 1934 called Twentieth Century directed by Howard Hawks. To complicate the matter, Hecht and MacArthur based their play on an unproduced work by Charles Bruce Millholland called Napoleon of Broadway, which is based on his real life experiences with the legendary producer David Belasco, who left his name to the theatre on 44th Street, where Hedwig and the Angry Inch is now playing.

 

Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth To Star in CBS Pilot

Matthew Broderick

Matthew Broderick

Two of Broadway’s favorite performers, Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Broderick, will star opposite each other in an upcoming TV comedy pilot for CBS. The new show does not yet have a title.

The television show, to be directed by TV legend James Burrows (Cheers, Frasier, Friends), is about widowed father Jack (Matthew Broderick), a man who is trying to get back into the dating game while also raising a 12-year-old son. Kristin Chenoweth will co-star as Jack’s sister Marnie, a waitress.

Both Broderick and Chenoweth are Tony Award winning performers with plenty of Broadway experience. Broderick got his start as a young man on Broadway in Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues in the mid-’80s and is currently headlining the Broadway musical Nice Work If You Can Get It. Chenoweth became a star with her Tony winning featured role in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1999 and solidified her reputation as a Broadway star in Wicked in 2003.

Broadway Favorites To Honor Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced that it will be honoring stage, film, and recording legend Barbra Streisand at the 40th Annual Chaplin Award Gala on April 22, and some of Broadway’s brightest will be on hand to pay their respects through performance. Liza Minnelli and Kristin Chenoweth will be among the Broadway favorites offering up their musical talents during the ceremony.

The tribute to Barbra Streisand, which will culminate in the famed artist being presented with the Chaplin Award by President Bill Clinton, will also include performances from luminaries like Tony Bennett and Wynton Marsalis. Many film stars will be in attendance at the gala, such as Kris Kristofferson, Pierce Brosnan, Richard Dreyfuss, Amy Irving, and Blythe Danner.

“The Board is very excited to have Barbra Streisand as the next recipient of The Chaplin Award,” stated The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s board chairman Ann Tenenbaum. “She is an artist whose long career of incomparable achievements is most powerfully expressed by the fact that her acclaimed Yentl was such a milestone film.”

Kristin Chenoweth Hosts The Dames of Broadway on PBS

Kristin ChenowethThe spotlight will be shining on the female characters who have made Broadway grand in the upcoming PBS broadcast of Kristin Chenoweth: The Dames of Broadway … All of ‘Em!, set to air on March 24.

Airing as part of the Live From Lincoln Center TV series on PBS, the concert itself is a part of Lincoln Center’s celebrated American Songbook series. During the evening, Chenoweth will honor the great roles for women that Broadway has brought us, from fabulous leading roles to scene-stealing featured parts.

Kristin Chenoweth is herself a favorite lady of Broadway, first gaining fans with her turn in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and going on to dazzle Broadway audiences in Wicked. More recently Chenoweth has been seen on TV in Glee and Pushing Daisies.

Carnegie Hall To Feature Broadway’s Favorite Divas

Kristin ChenowethTwo of Broadway’s favorite leading ladies will be gracing New York City cultural institution Carnegie Hall in the 2013-2014 season.

Two-time Tony Award winning actress and singer Patti Lupone, who was recently on Broadway in a non-singing role in David Mamet’s The Anarchist, will perform there on November 7, 2013 in a concert entitled “Far Away Places”. The one-night-only event will be a sort of travelogue that presents songs in different styles that tell different stories, including numbers by composers ranging from Cole Porter to Kurt Weill.

Tony and Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth, best known for her role in Broadway’s mega-hit musical Wicked, will visit Carnegie Hall on May 3, 2014. The performance will be called “Evolution of a Soprano”.  Visit www.carnegiehall.org to find out more information, including ticket availability.