The stellar reputation of Park City Theatre continues with a revival production of their 2007 hit musical, Gutenberg! The Musical! Presented by Plan-B Theatre Company and the Egyptian Theatre, “Gutenberg!” chronicles the literary journey of Bud Davenport (Jay Perry) and Doug Simon (Kirt Bateman) who, inspired by their love of musical theatre, have written a musical which details the life of Johann Gutenberg – inventor of the the printing press. Or…what Bud and Doug imagined his life would have been. Apparently the facts of Mr. Gutenberg’s life are not well known, and Bud and Doug have been forced to “fill in the blanks”, so to speak. The audience is present as Bud and Doug pitch the musical to any possible broadway Producers in the audience. Unfortunately, being a “reading of a musical”, these 2 men are required to portray every character and sing every song. Fortunately for the audience, they rock at it.
The audience is initially greeted by a reasonably bare stage with simply a piano, technical engineer and upwards of 30 hats with various names written across them. As Bud and Doug begin their presentation, they explain their goals and also walk the audience through the process of writing a musical. They introduce all their characters, and entertain us with phenomenal music and unique lyrics. Watching these 2 men work, is like watching a bizarre circus of talent.
Jay Perry, portraying Bud, is excellent in his role – as is his counterpart Kirt Batemen as Doug. Both Mr. Perry and Mr. Batemen have a sense of ease while onstage, which is refreshing to watch. They know the characters they are playing upside-down and inside-out. They ought to, they’ve been running this show in various states and to numerous accolades since 2007. It was clear that they both enjoy the show, and although they may have performed these lines repeatedly, they didn’t show the slightest inclination of wear. I mean, have YOU ever seen a quartet performed with only 2 people? I waited for the ineveitable flub of a line/character accent/hat drop, etc – but it never came. These actors are pros and the production is virtually flawless.
I listened to the audience reaction and it was overwhelmingly positive – save one thing. From roughly row J and back, the writing on the hats was hard to read. This made is difficult during the scenes where characters switch rapidly, because we simply couldn’t follow along. However, it isn’t necessarily vital to know each character in the “group numbers” – just sit back and enjoy the song. You won’t miss any vital information if you’re unsure whether it’s “Boot Black” or “Beef Fat Trimmer” singing the lyric. A warning to audiences: this show (if it were rated according to movie standards) would warrant a PG-13 rating for language.
With a fantastic script, some hilarious music, and just a smidgen of the holocaust (to add seriousness), “Gutenberg!” is a hit.
Plan-B Theatre Company’s revival of GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL! is presented as part of Musicals On Main at Park City’s Egyptian Theatre, June 3-19. Please visit http://planbtheatre.org and http://parkcityshows.com