Have you ever seen a musical where most of the characters couldn't read? It really is a novel idea, isn't it? That's what Doug Simon and Bud Davenport are here for! The hack musical
theater hopefuls who basically constitute the whole cast of Scott Brown and Anthony King's Gutenberg! The Musical! know that writing a musical is hard, so they've done all the work. It's just up to the big-shot Broadway producers in the audience (who…us?) to make their dreams come true. In RepALLIANCE Theatre's production of this rather madcap little play, Matt Swanston and Dalles Wilie play the two sickeningly sincere song-and-dance men to a tee.
The duo's ideas about what goes into a hit Broadway musical are a double-edged satirical sword, slashing at the formula and self-importance of that often bloated medium while also cutting deeply into the delusions of its archetypal characters. But their Ed Wood-esque mania for doing things the cockamamie way they think things ought to be done is mostly just endearing. Their failure to understand basic concepts of storytelling is one of the show's finest points of humor. Their musical, about the inventor of the printing press, Johann Gutenberg, is described as historical fiction. What does that mean? "Fiction that's true." The play, of course, raises important issues. Doug and Bud are obsessed with illiteracy, and they explicitly state that the difficult issue their musical will tackle is the Holocaust, and how
the invention of the printing press failed to prevent its atrocities. Oh, and a poignant discussion about the age-old debate between followers of God and followers of "stuff" is particularly thought-provoking.