Monday, April 9, 2007

Gutenberg! The Musical! - April 8, 2007

My preference when seeing anything is to not read reviews beforehand. I do like to read them after I've seen a show to compare opinions. But sometimes I fall into a reading a review before... it happens. And I admit that I read a review of Guttenberg! The Musical! some months ago when it was at 59E59. It was not a glowing review. I put off seeing this show until it was recently recommended by a friend.

I decided to let go of the bad impression I had from the review and went in hoping for the best.

That has worked in the past.

Not so much this time.

I know it really should not be considered in terms of the show itself, but I really have a difficult time with late starts or other House Management issues. It really taints the experience for me, and while I know that is not the show: first impressions do indeed count.

I arrived at the theater one-half hour prior to performance time, which was 3:00PM. I picked up my ticket and wandered around the neighborhood for about 15 minutes, seeing no point in going into the theater earlier than that. Silly me. At 2:45 there was a line half-way down the block in front of the theater and they were not yet seating people. At 2:58 they finally opened the house. I got to my seat at 3:05. At 3:15 an announcement was made that they would start in 5 minutes.

So a 3:00 show was starting at 3:20. THIS is really inexcusable. It was going to take an awful lot to win me over to this show. But still, I tried to keep an open mind.

I shouldn't have bothered.

This was a waste of my afternoon from beginning to end. I hate to be cruel, but it's the truth. And I cannot blame it all on the poor house management.

This 1 hour 40 minute show would have been a wonderful 15 minute sketch - at most an amusing One Act short. It is a one note joke with none of the ingenious writing that it would need to make it work for almost two hours.

The performers did what they could with this piece, but the vehicle itself is the problem. The premise of a staged reading for backers and producers is a good one, again: for a 15 minute sketch not for a full length Off-Broadway show.

I understand that this is supposed to be a parody, a dig at Broadway musicals - and trust me, I'm all for THAT as I hate those big overblown productions that pander to the lowest common denominator. Agreed "musicals about vampires do not work". But please, if you intend to write a parody, a satire, a dig... make the music better than the crap you're making fun of. This was done beautifully, and hilariously, in The Musical of Musicals.

I admit there were several very funny lines in Gutenberg! and Ryan Karels (Doug Simon) who stepped out of his role of understudy (he understudies both roles - that's a lot of work Ryan! Good work!) has a charming voice and did a great job. But again, this show was at best a funny sketch that went on far, far too long.

The biggest irony for me, is that the best part of this show was a wonderful performer who I had first seen in possibly the worst Broadway musical I've ever seen.

David Turner (Bud Davenport) was the only shining light in In My Life and he is, once again, the saving grace here. Odd that he should be the glint of hope in both bad shows. I would love to see him in a play (or musical) that is worthy of his talent. This guy is wonderful, funny, silly, sly, extremely versatile and has a terrific voice - his Monk is particularly amusing. It is my misfortune not to have seen him in a worthwhile show. I hope one day soon that will change.

As Bud and Doug ask continuously during Gutenberg!, "are there any Broadway producers out there?" If so, grab Mr. Turner and put him in a GOOD show. Please!

Gutenberg! The Musical!
Actors' Playhouse Theatre
100 7th Avenue South
New York, NY 10014
Tickets: 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dude. That show was hilarious! (Gutenberg! The Musical!, that is).