Sunday, May 31, 2015

Clearly It's Kristin (Theater Thoughts: On the 20th Century, American Airlines Theater)

Every once in a while, even a jaded theatergoer like me still gets shocked. yes, shocked from seeing something so good that my faith in theater is renewed. That's how I felt seconds into seeing the new revival of "On The Twentieth Century." now playing at The American Airlines Theater and produced by the Roundabout Theater Company. This is a show I have never seen, but whose original cast recording I have devoured when I was still "discovering"  Broadway scores. So I have only imagined Madeline Kahn doing the role of Lily Garland. Now that I have seen Kristin Chenoweth in the same role, she will forever be etched in my memory. As if I had a doubt before, but here Chenoweth proves her mega watt star power. And in playing role, her small frame gives a larger than life performance, and it is one of those performances that only comes once in a blue moon, and years from now, we will all be bragging about the time we saw her do this role. Yes, it is that great, and on Tony night, the theater community will not be able to resist giving her another Antoinette Perry.  She does everything here, and she does all of them big: she sings every note in the scale, she dances every step in the book, she chews every imaginable scenery - and she does them all with sheer delight. And she is supported by such a charming cast, starting with Peter Gallagher as her producer ex-boyfriend who is trying to woo her for a new production that will save his recent flops.  And Andy Karl, as her boy toy, displays comedic timing I never thought he possessed - and he was already sublime in last season's "Rocky." The score takes time to love, although once you do, it's irresistible. There are a lot of things happening on stage, and for the most part they all hit the right mark. But again, again, and again, it's Kristin - she carries this whole show, and lets it soar. On my death bed, this will be one of the highlights of my theatergoing experience.

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