Mark Jacoby and Donna English have been offered the roles of Oscar and Lily for the Goodspeed Opera House revival of On the Twentieth Century, beginning performances April 9, 1999.
The 1978 Betty Comden-Adolph Green-Cy Coleman musical retells the story of an egomaniacal -- and broke -- stage producer, Oscar Jaffee, who woos his onetime protégé-lover, Lily Garland, away from Hollywood and back to Broadway. The setting of the musical, based on Hecht and MacArthur's Twentieth Century, is the famed New York Central Railroad liner, racing from Chicago to New York.
Goodspeed, the East Haddam, CT, nonprofit that nurtured Annie, has a verbal agreement with Jacoby, who is currently playing Father in Ragtime on Broadway. A spokesperson for Ragtime told Playbill On-Line Jan. 21 Jacoby had not given notice and was expected to continue there. Jacoby is one of only a few original featured players remaining in Ragtime.
English appeared in Goodspeed's 1993 staging of On the Town, in George Abbott's Broadway on Broadway, and in Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back! and Ruthless Off-Broadway. Ted Pappas will direct On the Twentieth Century; Peggy Hickey will choreograph; Michael O'Flaherty is musical director.
Designers will be James Noone (sets), David Wollard (costumes) and David F. Siegal (lighting). Orchestrations for the comic-opera, faux-Offenbach score by Coleman are by Christopher Jahnke.
A rare full-out musical comedy for director Hal Prince in a period punctuated by his more serious-minded Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Evita and Follies, On the Twentieth Century is a cult favorite but is not widely known, despite its national tour starring Rock Hudson and its Tony Award-winning book and score.
The original Broadway production is remembered for Robin Wagner's clever, glittery art deco scenic design and its breakout, Tony Award- winning performance by a young Kevin Kline, as a rival of producer Oscar Jaffee (played by Tony-winner John Cullum).
Madeline Kahn played the original Lily but left the show early in the run to be replaced by then-newcomer Judy Kaye in one of the great starmaking roles in recent history. (Kaye, coincidentally, shares the Ragtime stage with Jacoby.)
Other shows in Goodspeed's season are: No, No, Nanette (July 9-Oct. 2) and the new musical, Glimmerglass (Oct. 8-Dec. 19, 1999).
For Goodspeed subscription information, call (860) 873-8668.
-- By Kenneth Jones