Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn
milwaukeesfs

Gutenberg! The Musical!

On Wednesday night, September 5th, we went to the Stackner Cabaret to see the Milwaukee Rep's production of "Gutenberg! The Musical."

The show is presented by two performers, Eric Damon Smith as "Bud," and Gerard Nugent as "Doug," two ordinary but stage-struck guys who have supposedly written (but not produced)a couple of musicals and are now auditioning their latest effort to the supposed "Broadway producers" in the audience.

Supported by music director Paul Helm at the piano, the two perform all the songs, dances, and characterizations for a cast of several, differentiating their roles by switching ball caps labeled with character names—everyone from "Gutenberg" to "Rat"—and, no, that's not a character nickname, the show calls for singing rats. When singing choruses, they stack all the available hats on their heads.

The reference to singing rats tells you a lot what the show is like. It's a gentle parody of Broadway historical dramas, with musical and scenic references to "Les Mis," and "Phantom of the Opera," plus "Star Wars." "Spamalot" has a lot to do with it to, not just because of the Pythonesque musical plot, but because the writer characters talk between scenes about their creative process and the structure of a Broadway show. (I hadn't heard the term "charm song" before this, but it's a useful concept to know--.)

Since the guys' research process shows "Most of Gutenberg's early life is a mystery." (Wikipedia), they felt free to concoct a pot-boiling plot involving a town full of people depressed that they are illiterate, an evil Monk who wants to keep the people "stupid", and a love interest for Gutenberg named "Helvetica." The sheer bathos* of the script is relieved by the jaunty music. The two men have good voices, but work even harder sometimes singing three different voices in one verse. They also manage a goodly amount of funny dancing as well.

Not great theater by any means, but good, funny, and very enjoyable. "Gutenberg! The Musical!" continues through October 14th.

(*Yes, bathos—not pathos. ba•thosˈ, noun:1. a ludicrous descent from the exalted or lofty to the commonplace; anticlimax. 2. insincere pathos; sentimentality; mawkishness. 3. triteness or triviality in style. )

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Tags: music, theatre
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