Review: On the 20th Century at Davis Shakespeare Festival
On the 20th Century is a frothy musical classic by Cy Coleman, now being given a faithful recreation by the Davis Shakespeare Festival under the direction of Gia Battista. Start with a beautiful train set designed by Liz Hadden-McGuire, with rotating cars to show the interior rooms. Add a talented cast featuring Sharon Rietkerk as Lily Garland, the former accompanist named Mildred Plotak, who was plucked from obscurity by theater empresario Oscar Jaffee (Christopher Ryan) and made a star. Oscar has just experienced his fourth flop and is heavily in debt. He knows if he can get Lily back, he’ll have another hit and be back on top. Oscar and Lily are backed by a coterie of flunkies and romantic partners. Outstanding among these is Ian Hopps, Lily’s Boy Toy, and Max Jacobs, a rival producer who wants Lily for his own show. Add to the mix the fabulously wealthy, religious eccentric Letitia Primrose (Robin Fisher) who happily promises to underwrite Oscar’s show, and several other passengers on the train who all happen to have “surefire hit” shows for Oscar to produce. The costuming is opulent, and the seven-piece orchestra, partially hidden at the back of the stage, and under the direction of Tom Abruzzo or Kate Janzen (depending on the performance), supplies the operetta-style period music.