Written by Serena
Hop on board the train and prepare yourself for a wild ride On the Twentieth Century! Directed by Scott Ellis and starring Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Gallagher and Andy Karl, this show is a bundle of fun that keeps you entertained from start to finish.
Peter Gallagher is Oscar Jaffe, a bankrupt producer who is determined to convince his former lover and Hollywood starlet Lily Garland (Kristin Chenoweth) to play the lead in his new drama. But Lily wants nothing to do with Oscar, and her jealous boyfriend Bruce (Andy Karl) is determined to keep it that way.
The show starts out with a bang as you’re introduced to the hidden stars of the show- the tap dancing porters. The four porters (Philip Attmore, Rick Faugno, Drew King & Richard Riaz Yoder) are a delight to watch. They astound with all their dancing numbers (choreographed by Warren Carlyle) and they bring the house down with “Life Is Like a Train.”
Another highlight of the production is the fantastic scenery by David Rockwell. Starting with an astonishingly realistic train, it is comprised of parts that are constantly being moved around by the cast. As the majority of the show takes place on the train, it must have been a real challenge to configure, but the result is a spectacular set that really brings the show to life.
One of my favorite things about On the Twentieth Century is its supporting cast and all the little comedic bits sprinkled liberally throughout. Oscar’s cronies, Owen & Oliver (played by Michael McGrath & Mark Linn-Baker) are a barrel of laughs, and the religious fanatic, Mrs. Letitia Primrose (Mary Louise Wilson), will crack you up when the company performs “She’s a Nut.” It is that and the countless other small bits that provide the bells and whistles.
All of the above components keep the train moving, but the leads of the show set it rolling on the express track. Kristin Chenoweth (aka Mildred Plotka) is a ball of energy – she is adorable, funnier than ever, and her high C’s will astound you. Peter Gallagher really surprised me with his voice and acting chops, he complements Kristin well. Andy Karl drew some of the biggest laughs with his prima donna attitude – he also brought some “Rocky” to the character by tossing & lifting Kristin to hilarious effect.
I initially bought my tickets to see On the Twentieth Century because it had Kristin’s Chenoweth’s name attached to it. After having seen the 1934 film my expectations were low, but I needn’t have worried because it is one of the funniest, most entertaining shows on Broadway right now. I would not be surprised if it won a couple of Tonys!
The American Airlines Theatre is interesting– we sat in the mezzanine which only has two aisles on either side of a really long row so if you’re sitting in the middle you have to climb over a lot of people to get to your seat. There is a railing in front of each row as well, but the views are excellent. Before each Tuesday night performance they have something called “Theatre Talks” which is free for ticket holders and will give you some history about the production. We waited at the stage door afterwards to meet Peter & Kristin who were both so gracious and friendly. Kristin is a real sweetheart.
If you decide to see On the Twentieth Century, here are some things to keep in mind:
- American Airlines Theatre has more legroom than some theaters, but seats are still pretty tight
- Great views from the mezzanine
- The mezzanine is comprised of one really long row, so be prepared to climb over people
- Women’s bathrooms are very clean, but only four stalls by mezzanine
- The stage door is located on 43rd Street.
- Anyone age 18-35 can get tickets to the show for only $25 by joining Hiptix.