Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Gallagher Board Broadway Revival of 'On the Twentieth Century'

10:00 AM PST 05/13/2014 by David Rooney
Evan Agostini/AP
Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher

Set on a train bound from Chicago to New York City, the 1978 screwball comedy musical has a score by Cy Coleman and book and lyrics by Betty Comden & Adolph Green.

NEW YORK – The long-rumored Broadway revival of On the Twentieth Century is finally coming together, with Kristin Chenoweth set to step into the shoes of temperamental Hollywood star Lily Garland, a role made famous by Madeline Kahn.

Roundabout Theatre Company will produce the 1930s-set musical early next year, beginning previews Feb. 12 for a March 12 opening at the American Airlines Theatre. 

Scott Ellis, a frequent Roundabout collaborator who most recently directed revivals of The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Harvey for the company, will stage the production. Choreography will be by period dance specialist Warren Carlyle, a double Tony nominee this year for his direction and choreography of best musical contender After Midnight.

Chenoweth will star opposite Peter Gallagher, who plays bankrupt theater producer Oscar Jaffe. Traveling from Chicago in the luxury coach of the titular train, Oscar has until it reaches its destination in New York City to convince Lily to star in the nonexistent drama that will reignite their romance and his career.

Premiered on Broadway in 1978, the show has a score by Cy Coleman and book and lyrics by Betty Comden & Adolph Green, based on plays by Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur and Bruce Mulholland.

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Directed by Hal Prince, the original production starred John Cullum, Kahn, Imogene Coca and Kevin Kline. It won five Tonys, including best book and score. The show also made a Broadway star of Judy Kaye when she stepped in to replace Kahn, who withdrew nine weeks into the run due to vocal strain.

The Roundabout production will be the musical's first Broadway revival, scheduled for a 20-week limited engagement through July 5, 2015.

One of Broadway's most acclaimed contemporary musical theater stars, Chenoweth won a 1999 featured actress Tony for You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown but is most indelibly associated with the blockbuster hit Wicked, in which she originated the role of Glinda the Good Witch. Her most recent Broadway appearance was in the 2010 revival of Promises, Promises.

A veteran of both plays and musicals, Gallagher made his Broadway debut as Danny Zuko during the long-running 1972 revival of Grease, and was most recently seen in Mike Nichols' 2008 revival of The Country Girl.

Full casting for On the Twentieth Century will be announced shortly. The production replaces a previously announced revival of Michael Frayn's Noises Off on the Roundabout schedule. That play has been postponed to fall 2015.

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