All Aboard! Barbour and Twyford Ride Signature's Twentieth Century Aug. 19-Oct. 5

News   All Aboard! Barbour and Twyford Ride Signature's Twentieth Century Aug. 19-Oct. 5 James Barbour and Holly Twyford star in the DC-area Signature Theatre's world-premiere staging of the newly revised Twentieth Century, the 1932 Ben Hecht Charles MacArthur showbiz comedy as realized by Ken Ludwig, starting Aug. 19.

James Barbour
James Barbour

The play is famously set aboard the sleek, Chicago-to-New York-bound luxury train. Barbour (Jane Eyre, Beauty and the Beast) plays hungry and desperate theatre producer Oscar Jaffe, who is trying to lure movie star Lily Garland (Twyford), his former lover, back to the boards.

Ludwig's revision trims the large cast to a more economical size. The playwright had hits with Crazy for You and Lend Me a Tenor and less success with Moon Over Buffalo (which is regularly produced) and the musical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Signature Theatre is the resident not-for-profit in Arlington, VA, where artistic director Eric Schaeffer has reimagined musicals (particularly those by Stephen Sondheim) to great acclaim. The Helen Hayes Award winning company is also committed to new works.

The troupe held a reading of the new Twentieth Century in 2002.

In Manhattan, Roundabout Theatre Company is expected to present the New York premiere of the Ludwig Twentieth Century (in a separate staging expected to star Alec Baldwin) in the coming year. In the meantime, performances under Schaeffer's direction in Arlington begin Aug. 19 and continue to Oct. 5.

Joining Barbour and Twyford are Will Gartshore, a Helen Hayes Award nominee for Side Show and Grand Hotel who returns to Signature as George Smith, Lily Garland's would-be leading man and fledgling manager/boy-toy; and Harry A. Winter, following recent roles in The Gospel According To Fishman, 110 In The Shade and Follies, as Oliver Webb, a fast thinking, cigar-smoking theatrical publicist and right-hand man to Oscar Jaffe. Rachel Gardner (In The Garden, The Christmas Carol Rag) also appears in her fourth Signature production, this time as the no-nonsense Anita Highland who maneuvers her boss, Dr. Grover Lockwood played by Thomas Adrian Simpson (Grand Hotel, 110 In The Shade), into an ill-fated adulterous affair. Beloved Signature favorite, Donna Migliaccio, a Signature co-founder and winner of a Helen Hayes Award for her role in the company's first musical, Sweeney Todd, returns after appearing in countless Signature productions. She plays Myrtel Clark, which was changed to a woman from the original script. New to Signature and the D.C. area is Christopher Bloch, who, following his appearance in Ford Theatre's 1776, plays the role of Owen O'Malley with an Irish brogue and a nose for mischief. Rick Hammerly (of Signature's Hedwig And The Angry Inch) is Max Jacobs, the lead actor in the world-famous Oberammergau Players, dedicated to presenting the Passion Play. Rounding out the cast is Frederick Strother who was last seen at Signature in Working. Strother plays the Conductor, who's impossible task is to keep track of the passengers.

Designers are James Kronzer (scenic), Jonathan Blandin (lighting), Anne Kennedy (costume), Christie Kelly (wig/hair designer) and Tony Angelini (sound).

"The Twentieth Century script calls for three separate train compartments, so in order to accommodate Signature’s very intimate theatre, the set would need to be compressed," according to production notes. "Kronzer came up with two radical solutions. The set will be oriented in a rarely used area of Signature's ever-adaptable black box space, offering the audience a completely new perspective. Also, to maximize the confines of the space, the train compartments will be placed end-to-end and built on tracks allowing it to travel back and forth to reveal and conceal various cars of the train during the play."

For more Signature Theatre information, visit www.sig-online.org.

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