Twentieth Century



Twentieth Century

By Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur (2004 adaptation by Ken Ludwig)
Directed by Kerrin White

Auditions for Therry’s March 2020 production will be held by appointment only on Saturday, 12 October at our clubrooms, 1 Regina Court, Beverley. Appointments and queries by email only: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Season dates: 

Wednesdays to Saturdays 18-28 March 2020 at 8pm, matinees both Saturdays at 2 pm. 

Rehearsals commence mid-January 2020. 



Broadway ballyhoo meets Hollywood hustle! This Hecht-MacArthur comedy is set in the observation car of the 20th Century Ltd, travelling from Chicago to New York's Grand Central Station. Aboard the luxury train are egomaniacal theatre producer Oscar Jaffe, desperately in need of a hit, and his former paramour and protégé, temperamental actress Lily Garland, who abandoned him for a Hollywood career. Oscar is determined to sign her for his new show, and Lily is just as determined to ignore his advances, both professional and personal.Trying to make sense of the chaos are his long time assistants Webb and O'Malley. Other hilarious characters include George, Lily's lover, Max (another ex-lover and producer) and a religious fanatic who has escaped from an institution.

The 1934 film starred John Barrymore and Carole Lombard and was directed by the legendary Howard Hawks - it is considered the first of the great 1930s Hollywood screwball comedies.

Era: 1933


Oscar Jaffe - 40s/50s. Famous, egomaniacal Broadway theatre impresario. He discovered Lily Garland, made her a star and also his lover. After a terrible falling out they haven’t worked together for 5 years. Facing bankruptcy, Oscar needs a hit and Lily is his meal ticket. He spends the train journey trying every dirty trick in the book to woo her back. He is a selfish con artist one minute and a witty and charming artiste the next. The term “chewing the scenery” could have been invented for this character.

Lily Garland - 30s/40s. Famous Hollywood and Broadway star. Real name Mildred Plotka. She was discovered by Oscar Jaffe who moulded her into the star she is today. Their complicated professional and love life blew up five years ago and she swore she would never work with him again. A highly theatrical personality who often blurs the line between her roles and real life. She is “on” almost all of the time and quotes lines of theatrical dialogue as if they are her own thoughts and feelings. Oscar uses her ego and vanity against her.

Ida Webb - 30s-50s. Intelligent, witty, acid tongued and no-nonsense associate of Oscar Jaffe. Ida has worked in theatre and for Oscar for many year and knows all the angles. She is Oscar’s Spin Doctor/Fixer. A typical wise-cracking screwball comedy character - think Katharine Hepburn or Rosalind Russell.

Owen O’Malley - 30s-50s. Irish. The brawn to Ida’s brains. Owen is a fixer too but uses his physicality and slightly menacing qualities to remove any obstacles in his boss’s path. A smart-mouthed wise guy with a soft heart under all the bravado.

Matthew Clark - 40s-70s. On the surface a meek and mild gentleman who is President of the Laxo Fruit Tablet Company. He is in fact an escaped mental patient with a religious mania. He spends much of the time slapping religious stickers onto the train walls and windows. He agrees to finance Oscar Jaffe’s next production as long as he can play the lead role - a fellow called Jesus.

Anita Highland - 20s/30s. Smart sassy secretary having a naughty weekend away with her married boss. She becomes increasingly exasperated at her boyfriend’s inability to “get down to business”. She is also nervous with escaped mental patient, Matthew Clark, on the loose.

Dr Grover Lockwood - 40s/50s. Married man carrying on an affair which he can’t enjoy because he is constantly expecting to be found out. He has written a terrible play about Joan of Arc that he desperately wants Oscar Jaffe to produce.

Conductor - 30s-50s. A hard working employee of the train company, he is constantly thwarted by all the Hollywood and Theatre people running amok on his train. He becomes increasingly anxious and frustrated as the journey goes on.

George Smith - 20s/30s. Attractive but dim-witted, George is the much younger lover and agent of Lily Garland. His “attempts” at verbal sparring with Oscar, Ida and Owen are embarrassingly hilarious.

Porter**- 20s-50s. Slightly in awe of all the Hollywood and theatrical types on the train, the Porter finds himself constantly involved in scuffles.

Beard**- 20s-50s. German. The heavily bearded and accented lead actor of the world renowned Oberammergau Players. Outrageous German accent.

Max Jacobs**- 30s-50s. Oscar’s greatest rival as a theatre producer and another ex-lover of Lily Garland. He is a blunt, crass, cigar chomping successful businessman.

Detective**- 20s-50s. Sent onboard the train to retrieve the escapee Matthew Clark. He is full of enthusiasm but is totally out of his depth when finding himself surrounded by more than one crazy person.

**These characters are intended to be played by one versatile individual.