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On the Twentieth Century

Members say: Entertaining, Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Clever
84
Critics
84
31 reviews
Members
84
125 reviews
 

Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth and Golden Globe winner Peter Gallagher star as a temperamental actress and an egomaniacal impresario in a revival of the Tony-winning musical comedy.

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It’s nonstop laughs aboard the Twentieth Century, a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York City. Luck, love and mischief collide when the bankrupt theater producer Oscar Jaffee embarks on a madcap mission to cajole glamorous Hollywood starlet Lily Garland into playing the lead in his new, non-existent epic drama. But is the train ride long enough to reignite the spark between these former lovers, create a play from scratch, and find the money to get it all the way to Broadway?

 

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Reviews (156)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
84
Avg Score

95
The New York Times

"In the theater, there is overacting. Then there’s over-the-moon acting, which is rare and occupies its own special cloud land in heaven. I am delighted to report that this latter art is being practiced in altitudinous-high style...Scott Ellis’s ripping, lavishly appointed revival of this 1978 musical about dueling giant egos knows that when it comes to being hyperbolic, there’s no people like show people...sit back, relax and savor the blissfully bumpy ride in luxury accommodations." Full Review

90
Variety

"Scott Ellis’s dazzling production of 'On the Twentieth Century' looks like one of those legendary Broadway musicals that exists largely in our collective memory of great shows we never saw...For a lot of us, this is the show of our dreams...The plot is pure screwball comedy with some classic farce moves for broader chuckles." Full Review

80
Time Out New York

"The 1978 musical itself is written in an affectionately arch style that combines comic operetta with farce and screwball sex-battle comedy...The action and the notes are at a higher pitch than we’re used to...'On the Twentieth Century' may be a cartoon, but it’s a Hirschfeld cartoon, and worth a trip." Full Review

100
New York Post

"Gloriously revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company, this 1978 musical is a fast-paced romp...Set entirely on the 20th Century Limited train from Chicago to New York, the show barrels down the tracks to theatrical bliss...All told, “On the Twentieth Century” is on track to score big at Tony Awards time. Buy your tickets before the train leaves the station." Full Review

65
The Guardian (UK)

"It’s tough to love a musical with such unexceptional songs...Without a first-class score to bolster the madcappery, even an engine as forceful as the Twentieth Century’s sometimes runs out of steam." Full Review

90
Lighting & Sound America

"Scott Ellis' staging of this 1978 musical comedy gem is marred a bit by occasional stylistic slips, but, for the majority of its running time, this is strictly a pleasure excursion...It has been a gift from the theatre gods to have two Comden and Green shows this season. Their special brand of malice-free satire is on full display here, and what a glorious thing it is. I don't care if it is March; if you see it, you're practically guaranteed to leave the theatre in a holiday mood." Full Review

90
New York Theater

“'On The Twentieth Century' turns out to be one of the funniest and most entertaining shows on Broadway...an electrifying mix of the glamorous and the hilarious...Director Scott Ellis and choreographer Warren Carlyle make the most of both the slapstick mayhem and the razzmatazz, sometimes simultaneously." Full Review

70
New York Magazine / Vulture

"Especially when it moves and sings it sparkles like new, with each small detail detailed as if for the first time. But not everything works...The score, like the somewhat wayward script, only coheres under certain conditions, few of which are available anymore." Full Review

95
New York Theatre Guide

"There are a lot of reasons to pick up the phone NOW and get tickets to this production...this musical is a predictable piece of fluff that Scott Ellis has whipped up into a soufflé of extraordinary proportions. It is as fine a production as you will find anywhere. And if musicals are your preferred theatrical flavor, you will be in h-e-a-v-e-n." Full Review

80
The Wall Street Journal

"So you’re looking for a good time? Look no more: The Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of “On the Twentieth Century” is is the best musical to hit Broadway since 'On the Town'... it’s a fluffy exercise in high-octane pleasure, blessedly devoid of deep thought and certain to satisfy anyone not congenitally po-faced... 'On the Twentieth Century' isn’t perfect—but it’ll do quite well enough." Full Review

55
Talkin' Broadway

"Most of this production looks as though neither engineer nor conductor has bothered to check in on it for a while...When it comes to consistency and comedy, the fires simply haven’t been stoked at all...'On the Twentieth Century' is, at best, a lower-second-tier musical that’s more likely than not to go off the rails if not treated with the utmost care. It has not received that care this time around." Full Review

75
AM New York

"The Roundabout Theatre Company's new production doesn't live up to all that the musical could be theatrically, musically and comically. That being said, the production is still pretty damn enjoyable. To speak metaphorically, the glass may not be full, but it's certainly more than half full." Full Review

45
The Hollywood Reporter

"This strained farce is a musical stubbornly lacking in locomotion, its steam engine spouting plumes of desperation. While director Scott Ellis has a proven track record with comedy, he's off his game in this belabored revival...People sitting near me were roaring with laughter, so the show's cornball humor was obviously working for some. But while I was ready to be taken on a delirious musical journey, the train never leaves the station." Full Review

100
New York Daily News

"Next stop, Broadway musical bliss. That’s where the Roundabout revival of “On the Twentieth Century,” directed with verve by Scott Ellis, takes you...In the show’s title song, it comes out that the Twentieth Century famously gives passengers 'nothing but the best.' This production, fizzy and dizzy entertainment, does likewise." Full Review

70
Deadline

"It deserves as long a run one could wish for a charmingly silly homage to the old-fashioned operettas that were once a mainstay of Broadway but whose time had long since passed when the show opened in 1978...Scott Ellis’s production works very hard at solving the show’s problems, with mixed success...'On The 20th Century' reveals Comden and Green in their twilight, the brilliant magic evident, but fading." Full Review

90
CurtainUp

"Count on having a fine time...The show boasts plenty of show stopping, eye-popping and ear caressing star power...When On the Twentieth Century, the musical first opened on Broadway in 1978, Variety noted that it indicated an increasing tendency for Broadway shows to stress grandiose spectacles. Since then the economy has forced those spectacles to make room for more modest productions, making an occasional spectacle like this one spectacularly enjoyable." Full Review

80
Chicago Tribune

"This revival won't convert detractors who think this material tired or second tier, and it makes no great revisionist play for its source. But there's a lot to admire about this production for extant fans of old musicals...None of this would travel though, without the clarity of the Ellis storytelling, the real fire in the engine here." Full Review

90
Newsday

"If, indeed, the 1978 musical-comedy has been saving itself for just the right mad screwball alchemy, then, all right, this was worth the wait. Ego, love and the lovingly egomaniacal theatricality of theater people are the subjects of the Roundabout Theatre Company's breathlessly charming revival of a show about which, I admit, I never before have felt the slightest bit bonkers...Lovely, all lovely." Full Review

70
The Wrap

“'On the Twentieth Century' isn’t a great musical, but it does offer great opportunities for actors to prove why they’re stars – or not stars...Comden and Green’s book inspires more smiles than belly laughs, and Coleman’s music borrows from everybody but himself at his best. 'On the Twentieth Century' needs stars, and for the most part this production delivers them express." Full Review

85
NorthJersey.com

"The show has a solid base. But this production, with an ideal cast and inventive direction by Scott Ellis, just takes off, surging like the 20th Century Limited train on which it's set. Considering it has the most meager of stories, it's amazing how locked in we get...A grand solo number 'Repent' signifies the nonstop pleasures of the show. It doesn't advance the story, but that doesn't matter because it's such a hoot entirely on its own. Like the whole evening, it's just fun." Full Review

100
Reading Eagle

"The Roundabout Theatre production is a sizzling, sumptuous entertainment...Director Scott Ellis has reimagined the show with kinetic, retro-perfect sophistication and style...All the elements of this 'Century' combine to make a musical, manic train ride that truly puts the 'loco' in locomotion." Full Review

80
Stage Buddy

"It’s obvious that the company went all out in putting together this star-studded show...'On the Twentieth Century' is far from being subtle, but boy does it have fun making its point...As directed by Scott Ellis, the show takes its time finding its pace...It makes you completely forget about the world outside for a few minutes, and while life is indeed nothing like a train, you can’t help but want to chug along with them." Full Review

100
USA Today

"Fizzy, fabulous new revival...In this production, directed with giddy virtuosity by Scott Ellis, every player seems perfectly cast...this 'Twentieth Century' makes old-fashioned musical comedy magic feel entirely fresh." Full Review

60
Financial Times (UK)

"The musical comedy’s revival pleased the audience but fell short of its earlier incarnations...Even when the musical numbers are managed with superb speed, as they are in 'On the Twentieth Century', the Roundabout’s eager-to-please, hard-charging Broadway revival, there is a sense that a TGV has been downgraded to commuter-track velocity." Full Review

90
NY Theatre Guide

"'On the 20th Century' is a unique work. And in the Roundabout’s polished, lavish production, it’s a delight...It’s churlish to complain in the face of such a funny, tuneful, extravagant-looking work—one that was written after the golden age but behaves like a golden age classic. Musical comedy is back in town, hooray! Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
84
Avg Score

90
Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You love Kristin Chenoweth and enjoy classic operettas.

Don't see it if You are looking to see a fresh, original new musical.

91
Funny, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like operetta-style pieces and love Kristin Chenoweth!

Don't see it if you want something more serious.

80
Clever, Great singing, Fluffy, Extremely polished, Unmemorable melodies

See it if you love musicals or KCheno (she had to sip water thruout). Great set, costumes, big cast...but TC didn't gel. Wasn't crazy about Gallagher.

Don't see it if you want to be fully engrossed from start to finish. Some wonderful numbers, but not all (I found Babette annoying). Lavish production.

Also I'm catching up on reviews of shows I saw before joining Show Score. T... Read more Read less

54
Disappointing, Slow, Dated

See it if you like Kristen Chenoweth, sort of boring shows, and a slow plot.

Don't see it if you are looking for something modern and quick with an interesting story. Really unmemorable.

50
Disappointing, Cliched, Slow, Dated

See it if you want to see a dated show.

Don't see it if you won't, it closed.

89
Dated, Entertaining, Fluffy, Screwball

See it if you are a Kristen Chenoweth fan, enjoy farce, and are looking for an evening of lighthearted amusement.

Don't see it if you want something contemporary or serious.

77
Delightful, Dizzying, Slow, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Want a classic musical, we'll sung and Kristen Chenoweth...great costumes

Don't see it if You want a thought provoking experience, this is a lot of sugar

80
Banal, Disappointing, Dated

See it if you like kristen chenenworth

Don't see it if you do not like zany comedy.

90
Delightful, Exquisite, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You want to see a funny and fun musical with some awesome tap dancing as well.

Don't see it if You do not like musicals. You only like serious things.

79
Overrated, Fluffy

See it if Chenoweth doesn't call in sick.

Don't see it if you don't like purposely melodramatic, silly musicals.

89
Funny, Great acting, Hilarious, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like good old-fashioned musical comedy/farce; a fun night of entertainment.

Don't see it if you dislike heightened comedy or characters that are not realistic or completely fleshed out

90
Funny, Delightful, Romantic, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to see a brilliant revival of a classic show; if you like tap dancing bellmen; if you want your face melted off by Ms. Chenoweth

Don't see it if you don't like funny, fluffy, madcap humor; if you want deeply developed, tortured characters

81
Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if are a fan of cristin chenowith.

Don't see it if don't like revivals.

85
Clever, Slow, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you enjoy revivals that stay true to the original. Kristin Chenoweth was everything you could possibly want from a leading lady.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy classic, old school Broadway musicals.

87
Delightful, Enchanting, Great acting, Quirky

See it if You love delightful and light-hearted farcical showbiz comedies. The performances were outstanding.

Don't see it if You prefer more serious plots and minimalist production designs.

80
Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated, Entertaining

See it if You love Alec Baldwin and Kristin Chenoweth, although they were disappointing in this show. you like old Broadway musicals.

Don't see it if You want to see a really good revival of a Broadway musical, you remember Chenoweth as a vivacious youthful performer.

86
Funny, Delightful, Enchanting, Dated, Great singing

See it if you enjoy Kristin Chenoweth, who completely stole the show.

Don't see it if You don't like old school musicals.

92
Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if You love old fashioned musicals.

Don't see it if You don't like sugary and sappy plots.

70
Cliched, Dated, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you have Hiptix and/or want some light entertainment. The way the train was staged was impressive. Kristin Chenoweth is always worth seeing.

Don't see it if you care about connecting to the characters. The plot got very muddled in the adaptation from the movie. Entertaining but empty. Bad lyrics.

76
Funny, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if you love zany over-the-top theater. The dancing is great. The costumes are flashy. The whole thing is just a ball.

Don't see it if you don't like a good tap number.

75
Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Banal, Fluffy

See it if you love Kristin Chenoweth and don’t mind one of the fluffiest, inconsequential plots every concocted

Don't see it if you like a little more modern in your theatre

100
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Hilarious, Fluffy

See it if You want to see one of the funniest shows to hit Broadway in recent years, with amazing performances by Chenoweth, Gallagher, and Karl.

Don't see it if You have no stomach for farce or physical comedy.

51
Dated, Silly

See it if You love Kristin Chenoweth.

Don't see it if You are bored by second-rate, dated musicals with middling scores.

92
Funny, Enchanting, Exquisite, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you can go back to last year and see Kristin Chenoweth do it

Don't see it if you hate screwball

84
Funny, Delightful, Dated, Entertaining, Fluffy

See it if You're a big Kristin Chenoweth fan and want to see her at the top of her game.

Don't see it if Don't like quirky musical comedies that may not always deliver on laughs.