Next stop, Broadway musical bliss.
The setting for this fast-paced, flab-free screwball operetta by Cy Coleman, Betty Comden and Adolph Green is a luxury coach en route from Chicago to New York in the 1930s. The stylish state-of-the-art locomotive by David Rockwell gleams in brilliant Art Deco glory.
But that’s nothing compared to the practically nuclear glow that comes off Kristin Chenoweth, whose singular talent and skills are tailor-made for a role originated on Broadway in 1978 by Madeline Kahn.
Chenoweth is a stick of blond dynamite, a virtuoso comedian and singer. She uses her petite body, ample bosom and middle finger for a laugh. She hits every high C in the joyous and eclectic score that pushes the plot along expertly.
As Mildred Plotka, Chenoweth is a nobody, an audition pianist plunking out a living. She morphs into Lily Garland, an Oscar-winning glamour girl ever-fetching in stunning gowns — trimmed with lace and wit by William Ivey Long. She gets there with help from the powerful theater producer and sometime lover Oscar Jaffe.
Now Oscar, played by Peter Gallagher with just the right egomaniacal spin and scary glint in his eye, is broke. He needs Lily for his next project about Mary Magdalene, so he books a neighboring compartment on the train.
But a rival producer, Max Jacobs (James Moye) wants Lily for his project about high society. Which will Lily choose? That sets up one of a few elaborate and hysterical production numbers ingeniously choreographed by Warren Carlyle. Four tap-dancing porters add their own percussive and precise delight.
Lending sterling support as Oscar’s right-hand “musketeers” are Mark Linn-Baker and Michael McGrath. Mary Louise Wilson lets her inner rascal out as a fanatical, off-kilter millionaire who promises to back Oscar’s movie. And Andy Karl (remember him as the best thing about “Rocky”?) adds big laughs and huge biceps, along with some ace physical comedy, as Lily’s boy toy Bruce Granit.
In the show’s title song, it comes out that the Twentieth Century famously gives passengers “nothing but the best.” This production, fizzy and dizzy entertainment, does likewise.