Baldwin and Heche Pull Into the Broadway Station With New Twentieth Century, Opening March 25

By Ernio Hernandez
March 25, 2004

Ken Ludwig's streamlined Twentieth Century rides the Roundabout Theatre Company's railways right onto the American Airlines stage as the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur comedy is revived on Broadway, March 25.



The new adaptation of the classic comedy began performances on Broadway, Feb. 27. The run, just like the title train, is limited — playing through its recently extended date to June 6.

Alec Baldwin (A Streetcar Named Desire), Anne Heche (Proof), Tom Aldredge (Into The Woods) and Julie Halston (Gypsy) star in the play directed by Walter Bobbie (Chicago).

"What Ken [Ludwig] has done is an incredible compression of the show. The original cast I think is 28, maybe slightly larger and that's only because they could do that back then. I don't think you can do this with many plays," director Bobbie explained about the new staging. "When we first read the play, I thought 'I don't feel like anything's missing.' There were no essential characters that he eliminated and the characters that remain became more full-bodied, more focused. I feel the play, in fact, in some ways, has been improved with this production."

(To read more comments from Bobbie, visit Playbill On-Line's Brief Encounter section.)

Twentieth Century is the 1932 comedy set aboard the title luxury train en route from Chicago to New York. In an effort to revive his failing career, a Broadway ("earthshaker") producer hops on the Twentieth Century Limited to convince a famous Hollywood movie actress (once his former protege) to sign a contract with him for a play he has yet to conceive. As the locomotive (three moveable cars of which are provided on stage by scenic designer John Lee Beatty) bustles towards Broadway, time is running out.

The cast of Twentieth Century also features Terry Beaver (The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Henry IV), Teagle F. Bougere (45 Seconds From Broadway), Dan Butler (The Hothouse, Biloxi Blues), Stephen DeRosa (Into the Woods, Henry IV), Kellie Overbey (Betty's Summer Vacation), Ryan Shively (The Man Who Had All the Luck) and Jonathan Walker (The American Plan).

First based on a play by Charles Bruce Millholland, the show originally opened on Broadway Dec 29, 1932, at the Broadhurst Theatre. The work was later adapted into the 1978 Tony Award-winning musical On the Twentieth Century by Adolph Green, Betty Comden and Cy Coleman, and starring John Cullum, Madeline Kahn and Imogene Coca. (Take a look at the original 1932 playbill in Playbill On-Line's Playbill Archives feature.)

The designers include John Lee Beatty (sets), William Ivey Long (costumes), Peter Kaczorowski (lights) and Acme Sound Partners (sound).

Tickets to Twentieth Century at the AA Theatre, 227 West 42nd Street, are available by calling (212) 719-1300 or online at www.roundabouttheatre.org.