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GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL D'Youville Kavinoky Theatre
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Apr 23, 2024, 12:46
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Through April 28
GUTENBERG@ THE MUSICAL D’Youville Kavinoky Theatre

“Gutenberg! The Musical” is a funny and well-done desperate and dramatic money quest about the guy usually given credit for creating modern printing in the West.
He actually was the first in the West to use moveable type, apparently fairly well known in China at the time.
It completely changed Western society and religion, particularly giving any average citizen who could read the opportunity to read the Bible in his or her own language, rather than restricting it to in the Catholic church and its clergy.
Literacy wasn’t all that common 500 years ago.
This show from Scott Brown and Anthony King is staged as an audition for Broadway producers, with Bud Davenport (Zak Ward) and Doug Simon (Ricky Needham) as the putative playwrights, playing and singing innumerable roles as a hint of what a Broadway producer would need to put on a full production of the show.
The musical is vaguely related to what factually happened in the time of Johannes Gutenberg.
Director and costume designer Loraine O’Donnell worked with concept set designer Dyan Burlingame to create the flexible and fluid set, quickly moving scenery on and off the stage, working with the endless flow of baseball caps carrying names the two performers are playing, sometimes a pile of hats quickly whipped off to keep telling the story.
In the town of Schlimmer in Germany, Gutenberg runs a winery and putters with something in his workshop, using a wine press to print.
There is a cruel monk working out of a church on a hill above the village.
There is also Gutenberg’s friend Helvetica.
Ward and Needham gallop around the set, hats flying, crazily tangled plot elements rushing out and explaining the economics of Broadway shows and why the show is constructed the way it is, while assistant stage manager Grace Maynard works around them.
It’s all really different.
What we usually see is the end result of the tangled process which produces a Broadway show.
Here, we see the sausage of “Gutenberg! The Musical” being made.
It’s worth watching the cooking.

A.W.

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