Prince George's Little Theatre to Present TWENTIETH CENTURY, Begin. 8/30
Prince George's Little Theatre will lead off its 54th season with the madcap comedy "Twentieth Century" at the Bowie Playhouse at White Marsh Park August 30 through September 15. The six Friday and Saturday evening performances are August 30 and 31, and September 6, 7, 13, and 14 at 8 p.m. The three matinee performances are Sundays September 1, 8 and 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20, with discount tickets available at $15 for seniors and those 18 and under. For more information, call 301-937-7458.
"Twentieth Century" is credited with establishing the essential ingredients of the great 1930's screwball comedies - a dizzy dame, a charming but befuddled hero, dazzling dialogue, and a dash of slapstick. The action takes place on three cars of the luxurious express passenger train travelling from Chicago to New York City. Oscar Jaffe (Jeff Landau) is a flamboyant, egotistical theater producer-director who will go to any lengths to get his ex-lover and now glamorous Hollywood star Lily Garland (Susan Harper) to sign a contract for his next show. The self-absorbed Lily is accompanied on the train by her younger agent and current lover George Smith (Roger Paradis). Oscar's two assistants, Ida Webb (Kathryn Huston) and Owen O'Malley (Brian Binney) try to keep Oscar's schemes from coming unravelled as he works to determine exactly what play he can find that will entice Lilly and be the Broadway hit he needs to revive his flagging career.
The train is filled with other eccentric characters such as Matthew Clark (Paul Berry), a religious fanatic lunatic; and Dr. Grover Lockwood (Greg Anderson), a philanderer and would-be playwright accompanied by his mistress Anita Highland (Crista Campbell). During the sixteen-hour trip, the conductor (Aref Dajani) and the porter (Jennifer Harvey) try to keep the rolling madhouse under control. Rounding out the cast is Max Jacobs, a rival Broadway producer; a German actor nicknamed The Beard; and the Detective - all played by the multi-talented Steven Feder.
The play is based on an original idea by Bruce Milholland, who worked as a publicist for an egomaniacal 1930's producer and was inspired after observing him on board the Twentieth Century Limited transcontinental train. The accomplished writing team of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur brought the material to life with a Broadway hit that opened Dec. 29, 1932. Their play was followed by the great 1934 film and a 1978 musical adaptation retitled "On the Twentieth Century." In 2004 Ken Ludwig in a Tony award-winning adaption restructured the play for a cast of 11 and refreshed the dialogue to make the snappy lines wring laughter from a modern audience that might have found many of the 30's references too obscure.
PGLT's production is directed by Keith Brown and produced by Malia Murray. The brilliant art-deco set was designed by Brown and brought to life by Roy Peterson. The visual appeal of the show is crowned by the period costumes of Linda Swann and hair and makeup designs of Denise Levien.