As in the classic original play “The Twentieth Century,” this musical concerns the efforts of a flamboyant theatrical impresario Oscar Jaffe to persuade glamorous film star (and former amour) Lily Garland to appear in his next production while outwitting rival producers, creditors and religious nut Letitcia Primrose. All this before the 20th Century Ltd. train reaches NYC!
Book and Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Music by Cy Coleman, based on the plays by Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, and Bruce Millholland
Like many of the classical musicals, “On The Twentieth Century” offered many challenges: There was a classic train that had to be seen from both the inside and the outside, drawing rooms that had to magically appear and disappear, and a large open stage area for full-cast musical numbers. All of these challenges were overcome by scenic designer Gary Schwartz and the quartet of singing porters (who had been changed from male to female). While unknown at the beginning of the run, “On The Twentieth Century” was an audience favorite by the end of the run.