Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's play Twentieth Century shines at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. Adapted for the theatre by Ken Ludwig, the play was originally written in 1931 during the depression and is just as appropriate for comic relief today during our recession, as it was then.
Kudos to all the actors, producers Christine Soldate and Ward Calaway, and director Michael Lorre for this rendition.
Taking place on a train, which was wonderfully portrayed by set designer Adam Smith, the fast paced farce revolves around an obnoxious play producer, Oscar Jaffee (Arthur Hanket). Now on the verge of bankruptcy, his one and only chance at redeeming his fortunes is to seduce his former lover/actress Lily Garland (Stephanie Erb) to rejoin his theatre company. In the search for a new project, he runs into Dr. Gover Loveland (Barry Saltzman) and his lover, Anita Highland (Dorothy Brooks) and passion player (Matt Bolte.)
While on the train, his assistants, Ida Webb (Kimberly Lewis) and Owen O'Malley (Alan Brooks) run into the supposed heiress, uber religious Myrtle Clark (Beth Leckbee) as a funder for the passion play. What they don't know is that Myrtle desires to play the part of Jesus Christ and has recently escaped from an asylum. Mayhem breaks loose when George Smith (Matt Iseman) and Max Jacobs (Grant Baciocco) try to prevent Oscar from achieving his goal as the conductor (Douglas Gabriell) and the porter (Matt Bolte) search the train for Myrtle.
The magnificent set even included a sailor and maid having a run in, along with a mother (Jill Magliuone) and her daughter (Zoe Hanket) boarding the train.
It's not easy to play the over the top comedy, as these actors did, and do it good., but they all succeeded admirably.
Lighting, done by Sammy Ross and Kim Kurzinger (who was also the stage manager), was perfectly placed. Backstage crew included Liam Ruddisill, electrician Thomas Schneidon, house manager Orlando Mendoza, sound John Dimitri and Michael Lorre, costume Shon LeBlanc of the Costume House, and wigs were done by Kevin Remington. Dressing was done by Dain August. Props and set construction were Don Bergman, Adam Smith, Ward Calaway, and Anne Marie Atwan. Photography was done by Lia Pearson.
Produced with special permission of Samuel French and opening on February 3, 2012, this delightful comedy runs until March 17th, 2012.
Admission is $25 with seniors and students receiving discounts. Tickets can be had from www.sierramadreplayhouse.org or by calling 626 355 4318.