THEATRE REVIEW: Gutenburg! The musical!

Quick! Book now for the return season in July of this seriously funny, silly, but terrific show.
THEATRE REVIEW: Gutenburg! The musical!
Quick! Book now for the return season in July of this seriously funny, silly, but terrific show. It is in the style of Nunsense and The Producers - a delicious riot. David Harris (Bud Davenport) and James Millar (Doug Simon) play all the multiple roles required (with various assorted accents) to tell the fictiously true story of Johann Gutenburg, who changed history with the invention of the printing press in 1450 in his home town of Schlimmer in Germany. It is a picturesque, small town suffering from problems like a mad, meddling, Chinese monk who doesn’ t want anyone to learn to read so he can continue to interpret the Bible for them as he wishes (shades of Name of the Rose perhaps?), singing rats, smelly thatched roofs, an anti-Semetic flower girl and rambling drunks. The story is told by Bud and Doug as the creators of this musical, dreaming of seeing their names up in lights on Broadway. Disguised in the audience are (they hope) Important Producers who have come to see this reading of the musical. It is a showbiz delight with allusions to many of the great musicals (e.g. West Side Story, Cats , The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Kismet, Sweeney Todd, Oklahoma, A Chorus Line, Wicked, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar etc.), Star Wars and also Gounod’s Faust . Bud and Doug have obviously grown up absorbing Broadway musicals in their blood. They have the Broadway formula down packed, with big love ballads, show stopping act one finales, an ‘eleven o’clock’ number etc. They take us through the show with Charlie (Bev Kennedy) on piano substituting for the huge orchestra they will need, and wonderful choreography by Nathan M. Wright. Fog, lights and lasers are described / improvised. The various characters are delineated by baseball caps with their names on leading to tightly choreographed quick changes and a marvelous chorus line of hats. Seriousness is provided by references to the Holocaust and also the problems caused by illiteracy, (hence the opening with the dead baby). Love interest comes in the shape of Helvetica, a buxom blond bombshell desperately in love with Gutenburg, whom she works for. Some of the script is corny, but brilliant, and there are some groaning one-liners but overall it really works. Harris and Millar, past masters of the ‘triple threat’, are superb and gloriously strut their stuff. If I was an ‘Important Producer’ would I back this show? Yes, definitely! GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL Written by Anthony King & Scott Brown Directed by Neil Gooding Season closed Returns to the Seymour 14-25 July

Lynne Lancaster

Monday 23 February, 2009

About the author

Lynne Lancaster is a Sydney based arts writer who has previously worked for Ticketek, Tickemaster and the Sydney Theatre Company. She has an MA in Theatre from UNSW, and when living in the UK completed the dance criticism course at Sadlers Wells, linked in with Chichester University.