‘Gutenberg!’ premieres at the Egyptian
Ever since Plan-B Theatre Company ended its 2007 run of Scott Brown and Anthony King’s award-winning comedy "Gutenberg! The Musical," the cast, Jay Perry and Kirt Bateman who play Bud Davenport and Doug Simon, respectively have wanted to reprise their roles.
Thanks to a three-way collaboration between Plan-B, the Egyptian Theatre and Dark Horse Theatre companies, called Musicals on Main, the two actors will get their wish.
"Gutenberg! The Musical" will open at the Egyptian Theatre on Friday, June 3, and run Fridays through Sundays until June 19.
combining their efforts with the Musicals on Main series, the three companies can co-produce the costs of productions, said "Gutenberg! The Musical" director Jerry Rapier.
"In the changing world of theatre, it’s not surprising to do a co-production," Rapier told The Park Record during an interview at the Egyptian Theatre last week. "It’s exciting to see that kind of partnership taking place."
"Gutenberg! The Musical" is the second show produced under the partnership. The first was the Dark Horse Theater Company’s run of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Tick, Tick BOOM!" last April, Rapier said.
"All this wouldn’t have been possible without the Musicals on Main Partnership," he said.
Rapier describes "Gutenberg!" as a "musical spoof" that catches aspiring playwrights Davenport and Simon in the process of pitching their idea of creating a musical about Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the moveable-type printing press, to an audience of potential backers. The audience, in this case, will be the actual Egyptian Theatre audience.
"These two idiots, and I mean that in the sweetest way possible, are so convinced they have written the most brilliant and epic and deliciously grand piece of theatre that anybody will ever see and hope someone in the Egyptian audience will stand up and say, ‘This is great! Let’s take it to Broadway!’"
Rapier first saw "Gutenberg! The Musical" after getting stranded in New York in the winter of 2007.
"I got snowed in New York while I was renting a theatre for the Off-Broadway play ‘Facing East,’ that Jay was in," Rapier said. "I had been thinking of seeing ‘Gutenberg!’ because a friend’s girlfriend designed the costumes, which are basically just hats that the two wear during different times in the show. Since I had the time, I went."
Rapier had never laughed so much in his life.
"It was the funniest thing I’d ever seen," he said with another chuckle. "Although it wasn’t my kind of humor at all, I laughed my tail off."
During intermission, Rapier called the agent who represented the show and left a message.
The two spoke the next day to work out details about bringing the show to Salt Lake City.
"I was sold after the first act and, thankfully, the second act didn’t suck," Rapier said. "It was the most fun I’ve had I a very long time anywhere, and probably the most fun I’ve ever had at the theatre, and I wanted to bring it to Utah."
Rapier knew Perry and Bateman would be the perfect cast.
"In a way, it wasn’t a stretch to see them in these roles," Rapier said. "To a degree, they’re essentially playing themselves."
"We didn’t know each other really well until we first did this show together," Perry said about their friendship. "As we rehearsed, we discovered we have a good comedic chemistry. Now, this being the third time around for Kurt and I, a lot of it is coming back. It’s been exciting to revisit all that stuff and also find some new things with it, too."
"When Jerry said we’re doing this again at the Egyptian, I basically jumped out of my chair," he said. "It’s so fun to do, especially with this group of people."
The challenge, however, is keeping the material fresh for a new audience.
"All the humor hinges on the fact that the story revolves around the fact that this is the first time the two characters have revealed this musical they have written," Bateman said. "While you have to do those rehearsed bits, it has to seem like you’re doing them spontaneously for the first time. That’s a fun challenge for every actor to do."
And, what would a musical be without music?
Music director Sean Sekino said when he first went through the score, he couldn’t believe what he was reading.
"The music is written through the eyes of Bud and Doug," he said. "You can hear in the music that these two characters grew up in the era of the ’80s hair-metal band. They know what a slow, rock-ballad sounds like. That’s their whole musical language.
"Reading the script and going through the music the first time, I would stop and say, ‘Are they going to sing the word ‘jellybeans’ on stage?’"
"Plan-B does so much new work and focuses on social issues, that we just wanted to do something that was totally fun," Rapier said.
"I just hope it’s as funny for the audience as we’re claiming it is," Bateman quipped.
Plan-B Theatre’s production of "Gutenberg! The Musical," will run Fridays through Sundays at the Egyptian Theatre from June 3 to 19. Friday and Saturday curtain is 8 p.m. Sunday curtain is 6 p.m. Reserved-seating tickets are $18. Cabaret seating is $25. Tickets are available at http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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