Theater Review: On the Twentieth Century

March 16, 2015 12:57 AM

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There are a million big reasons that On the Twentieth Century, the 1978 musical by Cy Coleman and Comden and Green, shouldn’t work today: It’s profoundly silly, tonally tricky, too big for the market, and a very hard sing. Indeed, the Roundabout’s delicious revival at the American Airlines crashes intermittently into most of those problems. But there’s nevertheless one small reason — about four-foot-eleven — it works anyway: Kristin Chenoweth. She is a comic genius in a role ideally suited to her gifts.

The role is Lily Garland, née Mildred Plotka, a spoiled, insecure 1930s Hollywood star with a tough girl’s moxie and an almost erotic attachment to histrionics. She’s aboard the title luxury train, heading to New York, to make a triumphant return to Broadway, where the lead in a new Somerset Maugham...

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