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Comedy set on train focuses on former lovers’ battle of egos

The cast of “On the Twentieth Century,” opening at the Adobe Theater.

The cast of “On the Twentieth Century,” opening at the Adobe Theater.

A bombastic and bankrupt theatrical producer lies on the skids after four flops in a row.

He schemes, cajoles and manipulates his former lover-now-star into helming his latest creation.

A battle of egos ensues.

Equal parts operetta, farce and screwball comedy, “On the Twentieth Century in Concert” plays at the Adobe Theater throughout the weekend.

The Cy Coleman/Betty Comden/Adolph Green musical was partly based on the 1934 Howard Hawks movie starring John Barrymore and Carole Lombard.

“They can’t live with or without each other,” director Hal Simons said.

The former paramours meet again on a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York in the 1920s.

Bankrupt Oscar tries to persuade the glamorous Lily Garland (formerly Mildred Plotka) to play the lead in his new, unwritten drama, and maybe – just maybe – rekindle their romance.

The musical ran on Broadway in 1978-79, starring Kevin Kline and Madeline Kahn. It garnered multiple Tony Award nominations, including a win for Kline. A 2015 revival starred Kristin Chenoweth.

The Adobe version stars Beth Elliott, Tim MacAlpine, Erick Seelinger and Warren Asa Wilgus.

The show is a benefit for ABQStages/The Growing Stage, a children’s theater education program, in memory of actor/director Matthew Naegeli, who was killed while driving home from San Diego two years ago.

“He had just turned 30,” Simons said.