note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
Scott Brown and Anthony King have written an intentionally bad musical. (Didn’t THE PRODUCERS do that already?) That’s the fun of GUTENBERG: that it’s so cheesy and the faux playwrights in the story don’t realize it. The real authors set GUTENBERG in a fictitious 15th century German town called Schlimmer. In German, ‘schlim’ means pretty bad and ‘schlimmer’ means even worse. Need I say more?
Gutenberg (Austin Ku) is about to invent the printing press by cleverly converting a wine press, not to mention stressing the credulity of the theater press. GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL (at New Rep through Oct 26th) is indeed silly enough for a cute one-act spoofing other musicals, even borrowing a scene (in the forest with the devil) from the opera Der Freischütz! Director Stephen Nachamie’s cast of two (Ku and Brendan McNabb) are wildly inventive (with fabulous piano antics by Todd Gordon) portraying all forty one roles with gusto. (My personal favorites are the two singing rats).
GUTENBERG is however, a two act musical and the anti-Semitic jokes are iffy at best, and offensive at worst…or ‘schlimmest,’ auf Deutsch. In the end, GUTENBERG just runs out of steam. Fog they’ve got. Steam, they haven’t.