It's great to walk into a revival of a Broadway musical and know very little about it. I had no idea that Comden & Green and Cy Coleman wrote On the Twentieth Century. Nor would I know after seeing it as nothing about it sounds like Cy Coleman. This comic gem of a show is a throw back to comedies where doors open and close, situations are topsy turvy and it's all layered into a comedic opera sounding score. A Broadway writer/producer wants to woo a movie star back to the stage (and into his life) and it all takes place on on a train from Chicago to New York called..the 20th Century.
I loved it.
It's a perfect evening to let go and laugh and be entertained. It has taken Roundabout Theatre Company a few years to get it here from when they did a reading with Hugh Jackman, but kudos to them for finally getting this show back into New York which originally ran in the 70s.
Everything about this show is great from starting it with an overture (which we rarely hear anymore), to the train porters that tap and give us the rhythm of the train with their feet, the costumes and sets with the perfect art deco look and feel. The ensemble sounds glorious the moment they start singing which is when I felt it was more of an operetta than a Broadway show. (Shout out to Ben Crawford in the ensemble who always grabs my eye any time he's in a show.)
The six main performers all bring the right amount of slapstick and humor to their roles. Completely in love with Mary Louise Wilson, Mark Linn-Baker and Michael McGrath. I also feel I owe Andy Karl an apology for my review from Rocky after seeing him in this. I had no idea of the range this man had (even though I had seen him as the UPS Man in Legally Blonde). He is absolutely wonderful in the role originally played by Kevin Kline. Perfect comedic timing - and yes…he knows how to use those muscles. I've been a fan of Peter Gallagher's for years and can't believe it was over 20 years ago since I saw him do Guys & Dolls on Broadway. He plays the aging cad of a producer/director wonderfully and I grew exhausted for him watching him crawl around the stage and giving 110%.
But yes, it is Kristin Chenoweth for which I'm sure this revival was done. The woman gets to show every inch of her talent in this role originated by Madeline Kahn (who only stayed in the show 6 weeks during the original show - Judy Kaye thanks her). The opera training shines through in this role and she sounds amazingly fierce. And she channels every comedic actress that has done farce before and yet manages to still make it her own. When she sings "Babette" in Act II and has a "Sybil moment" - WOW! She is a small force to be reckoned with and the audience eats her up.
This is a limited run of this screwball comedy so if you are in the mood for a great laugh - get to 42nd street and see this show!