Theatre Information

Little Theatre of Alexandria Twentieth Century

By • Jun 25th, 2013 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
Twentieth Century
Little Theatre of Alexandria: (Info) (Web)
Little Theatre of Alexandria Theater, Alexandria, VA
Through June 29th
2:20 with intermission
Reviewed June 20th, 2013

Ken Ludwig’s rollicking adaptation of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s comedy, Twentieth Century, directed by Roland Branford Gomez and produced by Jim Howard and Robert Kraus, has the audience laughing, out loud and often, at Little Theatre of Alexandria. Originally inspired by Charles B. Millholland experience working with the eccentric Broadway impresario David Belasco, the plot, set in 1938, revolves around properly bombastic theatrical impresario Oscar Jaffe (David James), who’s experiencing a bad patch…just short of the skids, really. His assistants, Ida Webb (Kathy Fannon) and Owen O’Malley (James McDaniel), discover his protegé, hilariously over the top and newly minted Oscar award-winning actress Lily Garland (Margaret Bush) is on the train, also bound for New York, and they collude to get Lily to sign a contract for a sure-fire hit to make up for the last big flop, snatching her out of the clutches of hopeful competitor Max Jacobs (Bob Cohen) and her boy-toy/manager George (Timothy Rowe). Add in Gary Cramer as a wacky religion-happy mental hospital escapee with a checkbook who’s loose on board (and steals every scene he’s in with characterization from opening curtain to close) and you have the makings for classic comedy.

LTA doesn’t disappoint. The show isn’t precisely laugh-a-minute, but there’s plenty of satisfyingly hilarious moments to make the hefty 80-minute first act fly by. Just when you think the story can’t get any crazier, it does, as it should.

Huge kudos to the design team as a whole for an absolutely fabulous, cohesive look with dead-on classic Art Deco styling, including John Downing and Bill Glikbarg for scenery, Ken and Patti Crowley for exceptional lighting design, from show curtain to closing scene, Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley for exquisite costuming, Heather Norcross and Robin Havens-Parker for impeccable hair and Emma Baskir’s classically styled make-up.

In all an excellent production and a very pleasant way to spend a summer evening. See it while you still have a chance!

Director’s Notes

When the play selection committee scheduled Twentieth Century, I applied to direct it, and I am so thankful that I was selected. This show means a lot to me–it has brought back wonderful memories.

First, when I was a child, age 6 through 11, I was an actor on WJZ (now WABC) on a show called “Coast to Coast on a Bus” with Milton Cross. (Nancy Walker and her sister, Betty Lou Barto, were in the chorus.)

At the same time, my agent got me a job on the well-known Saturday children’s program “Let’s Pretend.” I performed on this show four times, and the producers issued tickets for me to travel from New York’s Grand Central Station to Chicago on the Twentieth Century with my mother and my aunt in a lovely drawing room. (And how well I remember that fabulous train.)

Secondly, during that time I also studied tap dancing in a studio in the Carnegie Hall building. One of my dear little friends was called Mary, and we were very close. I would even be invited to parties at her home in Nyack, N.Y. Her mother always brought her, but occasionally her father would pick her up and take us to lunch. His name was Charles MacArthur, one of the playwrights of this wonderful crazy comedy. Her mother would often take us to matinees when there was a show that appealed to children our age, and to a lovely lunch at the Plaza before the matinee. Her mother was Helen Hayes. Mary, sadly, died at 11 years old. She was one of my first close friends, and I will never forget her.

Thank you to my wonderful cast and crew for helping my dreams come true with this show. And thank you, my wonderful audiences, for coming to our charming Little Theatre of Alexandria and offering us your support! I have loved this theatre since 1968.

Photo Gallery

Heather Norcross (Anita Highland), Michael Gerwin (Dr. Grover Lockwood), and Ben Norcross (Porter) Cal Whitehurst (Conductor) and James McDaniel (Owen O'Malley)
Heather Norcross (Anita Highland), Michael Gerwin (Dr. Grover Lockwood), and Ben Norcross (Porter)
Cal Whitehurst (Conductor) and James McDaniel (Owen O’Malley)
Gary Cramer (Matthew Clark), Heather Norcross (Anita Highland), James McDaniel (Owen O'Malley), and Kathy Fannon (Ida Webb) Cal Whitehurst (Conductor) and Kathy Fannon (Ida Webb)
Gary Cramer (Matthew Clark), Heather Norcross (Anita Highland), James McDaniel (Owen O’Malley), and Kathy Fannon (Ida Webb)
Cal Whitehurst (Conductor) and Kathy Fannon (Ida Webb)
David James (Oscar Jaffe) and Cal Whitehurst (Conductor) Kathy Fannon (Ida Webb), David James (Oscar Jaffe), Margaret Bush (Lily Garland), and James McDaniel (Owen O'Malley)
David James (Oscar Jaffe) and Cal Whitehurst (Conductor)
Kathy Fannon (Ida Webb), David James (Oscar Jaffe), Margaret Bush (Lily Garland), and James McDaniel (Owen O’Malley)

Photos by Doug Olmsted


  • Oscar Jaffe: David James
  • Lily Garland: Margaret Bush
  • Ida Webb: Kathy Fannon
  • Owen O’Malley: James McDaniel
  • Conductor: Cal Whitehurst
  • Matthew Clark: Gary Cramer
  • Dr. Grover Lockwood: Michael Gerwin
  • Anita Highland: Heather Norcross
  • George Smith: Timothy Rowe
  • Max Jacobs/ Detective: Bob Cohen
  • Beard and Reporter: Paul Tamney
  • Porter: Ben Norcross

The Crew

  • Producers: Jim Howard, Robert Kraus
  • Director: Roland Branford Gomez
  • Assistant to the Producers: Susan Barrett
  • Production Assistant: Ben Norcross
  • Assistant to the Director: Eddy Roger Parker
  • Stage Managers: Charles Dragonette, Rebecca Patton
  • Assistant Stage Managers: Casey Brusnahan, Richard Isaacs, Eddy Roger Parker, Jon Poole
  • Set Design and Construction: John Downing, Bill Glikbarg
  • Assisted by: William Ansel, David Doll, Jeff Gathers, Sandra Gehring, Jim Hutzler, Roger Pratt, Jack Rollins, Alyssa Settles
  • Lighting Designers: Ken and Patti Crowley
  • Costume Designers: Jean Schlichting, Kit Sibley
  • Assisted by: Kathleen Kolacz, Martha Raymond
  • Sound Design: David Correia
  • Assisted by: Anna Hawkins, Keith Bell, Bill Rinehuls, Alan Wray
  • Set Painting: Leslie Reed
  • Assisted by: Bobbie Herbst, Joanna Henry, Mary Hutzler, Patty Lord
  • Set Decoration: Susie Poole
  • Assisted by: Donna Reynolds
  • Master Electrician: Nancy Owens
  • Assisted by: Kimberly Crago, Eileen Doherty, Pam Leonowich, Doug Olmsted
  • Property Designers: Sherry Clarke, Bobbie Herbst
  • Assisted by: Rachel Alberts, Leslie Reed, Donna Reynolds, Jayn Rife, Liz Tipton
  • Wardrobe: Margaret Snow
  • Assisted by: Alisa Beyninson, Jamie Blake, Patti Greksouk, Barbara Helsing, Nicole Zuchetto
  • Hair and Wig Designers: Heather Norcross, Robin Havens-Parker
  • Makeup Design: Emma Baskir
  • Rigging: Russell Wyland
  • Photographer: Doug Olmsted
  • Audition Table: Maria Ciarrocchi
  • Assisted by: Sherry Clarke, Jay Cohen, Barbara Helsing, Bobbie Herbst, Leslie Reed, Sherry Singer
  • Double Tech Dinner: Larry Grey
  • Opening Night Party: Susan Barrett
  • Assisted by: Lloyd Bitlinger, Shirley Lord Cooper, Ronnie Hardcastle, Robert Kraus, Eddy Roger Parker, William Pope, Benny Robles, Sherry Singer

Disclaimer: Little Theatre of Alexandria provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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