“Oh God, I’m so excited…It has to go properly tonight!” And we completely perceive as we’re informed, grandly and comically by our two agile and decided hosts of this “one night time solely studying” of a brand new “historic fiction” musical. What precisely that’s, you could ask? No want to fret. As a result of with a flippant kick to the buttocks, the sport is on, repeatedly, and frequently defined. The schtick is full throttle onwards, and upwards for Gutenberg! The Musical. Or downward, relying in your tackle the proceedings.
It’s clearly essentially the most simple of bodily comedies, wrapped up within the studying of a musical performed straight and bent to an enraptured viewers. The group appears so overtly and enthusiastically invested within the joker playing cards performed by these two reunited actors working onerous for his or her cash. And once they exclaim Ta Da!, that it’s Gutenberg the Musical! – emphasis on the exclamation level – you higher be there totally for these two hard-working entertainers for the subsequent two-plus hours of repetitive jokestering. As a result of in case you aren’t that overtly thrilled to see the previous costars from The E-book of Mormon; Josh Gad (Broadway’s Putnam County Spelling Bee) and Andrew Rannells (Broadway’s The Boys within the Band), stay loud and humorous on stage, hamming it up large time as buddy writers of a musical, then the creativeness that they’re asking you to convey to this chortle second goes to be a heavy burden to bear. At the least it was for me.
They aren’t kidding, to be frank, as we watch them overtly mug their means by way of this concoction, singing some mediocre songs that discover a steadiness someplace between humorous and stupidly foolish. With a concept-heavy guide, music, and lyrics by Scott Brown and Anthony King (Beetlejuice), the proceedings really feel as structured and rote as may be, even once they “go off” the scripted rails, with permission. It’s cute however apparent the place they fling themselves, stomping the identical steps, knees excessive and cartoonish, as they try to search out financing for this twisted musical that has little to do with the precise occasions surrounding the creation of the printing press by a wine-making Gutenberg. This isn’t a historical past lesson, however I’m guessing you in all probability perceive that from the get-go.
Whereas donning quite a few baseball caps with signage to maintain us on monitor, the 2 play it onerous and broad as each character inside this fabricated musical formulation. They sing they usually prance, working up a sweat to make us chortle by typically referring to a repeated joke time and time once more. Sadly for me, Gutenberg the Musical failed to drag me in. I smiled. And chuckled typically, by no means actually becoming bored (though I needed it may have been means shorter) however by no means actually getting hooked on their attention-seeking video games. Most round me have been thrilled, laughing as if their life relied on it, discovering the humorous in each repeated line and joke setup delivered. Now I wasn’t precisely sitting there stone-faced. I snickered at lots of the jokie strains delivered, however as directed by Alex Timbers (Broadway’s Right here Lies Love), laughing out loud large and powerful was a present given to others. To not myself or to my companion.
However this present may be exterior the Timbers directing field, requiring one thing aside from his experiential spectacle-seeking framework. This comedy present masking itself as a musical seeking a producer wanted a stronger hand and a tighter rein to drag this into one thing aside from the formulaic, broad-humored piece that sits uncomfortably on a Broadway stage. On a surprisingly expansive set by scenic designer Scott Pask (Broadway’s Shucked), with simple costuming by Emily Rebholz (Broadway’s Jagged Little Capsule), decided lighting by Jeff Croiter (Broadway’s Value of Residing), and a stable sound design by ML Canine (Broadway’s Straight White Males) and Cody Spencer (Off-Broadway’s Broadway Bounty Hunter), the musical duo tries to take us by way of the paces with unending vitality for repeated strains and kicks. The songs have been clearly ridiculous, sounding good due to music supervisor T.O. Sterrett (Broadway’s Depraved) and music director Marco Paguia (Broadway’s Woman From the North Nation), however the cleverness solely got here in snippets and within the duo’s compelled physicality, which had little to do with the melody or script.
It’s tough to look at performers work this tough when the humor isn’t precisely there within the supply materials. They’ve to drag out each attainable stunt that they’ve, and if essential do it time and again, assuming we’ll stick with them on this journey. I suppose I wasn’t a part of that pack. Getting extra excited by the very fact I noticed Janet (D’Arcy Carden) from “The Good Place” through the compelled intermission; a structural framework that was each required by the storyboard formulation however not wanted by me. Save your head house and journey downtown for the a lot funnier Titanique, a present that goes off-script in all the best hilarious methods, with out ever giving us the sensation of being compelled to chortle. Or hey, it’s Halloween season! Take a chew out of Dracula – A Comedy of Terrors in order for you an excellent, stable, bloody, laugh-out-loud present – though, now that I’m enthusiastic about it (and never Dracula’s abs, I want they’d made that present a musical. That construction had higher viens for it. However that’s simply me, and my sense of biting, humorous, Celine Dion humor.