Satire on stage with ‘Gutenberg! The Musical’ at Lake Dillon Theatre
If you go
What: “Gutenberg! The Musical” part of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s 2015 summer season
When: Opening night is 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 5, with performances on select Tuesdays through Sundays until Sunday, June 21
Where: Lake Dillon Theatre, 176 Lake Dillon Drive, Dillon
Cost: Weekday performances, Tuesday to Thursday, are $33; Friday and Saturday shows are $36; Sunday shows are $36, with select matinees for $36; and students are $22 with valid student ID
More information: Call or visit www.lakedillontheatre.org for tickets and a full lineup for the theater season.
“Silliness and satire. A ton of laughs,” said Josh Blanchard, executive director of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, when describing the company’s newest musical comedy, “Gutenberg! The Musical.”
The premise is simple: Two aspiring playwrights, Doug Simon and Bud Davenport, have written a musical based on the life and times of printing-press inventor Johannes Gutenberg. Well, sort of.
Fueled with unending enthusiasm and heartfelt gusto, the duo performs a backer’s audition of their show with the lofty hopes of securing a production contract from a well-known Broadway producer. Together, they depict all the 20-plus characters in their show, singing and dancing their hearts out in what they imagine to be the next “Les Miserables.”
“‘Gutenberg! The Musical’ is about following your dreams,” said actor Kevin Alan, who plays Bud, the show-within-the-show’s composer.
“It may seem a bit naive, but anyone who has ever had a dream or goal can certainly empathize with these two guys,” said Ben Whitmore, Lake Dillon Theatre Company production manager, who plays Bud’s writing partner, Doug. “It’s really fun to play that refreshing perspective every now and then and remember how important it is to have those dreams.”
Satire on stage
The Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s production of “Gutenberg! The Musical” takes place in the cafegymatorium of the fictional Millard Filmore Elementary School, home of the Fighting Banana Slugs.
Flanked by the American and New York state flags, the elementary-school stage serves as the jumping-off point for the boisterous parody of musical theater and the hopeless fans of the musical stage. Armed with their original new musical, Bud and Doug attempt to speak against racism and intolerance, but their well-intentioned message of hope ironically misses the mark.
“Satire can shed light on people and issues in specific time and cultural contexts while also poking fun,” said Blanchard, who also directs the production. “‘Gutenberg! The Musical’ lightheartedly tackles some of today’s social issues but also parodies the process of writing a new musical and the enthusiasm writers often bring to that process. It’s hilariously irreverent.”
“Satire is the sugar that helps medicine go down,” Alan said.
“Through this fun, light-hearted lens of parody and comic disambiguation, a show like this really provides a unique opportunity that will make people laugh and maybe think a little bit,” Whitmore said.
“Gutenberg! The Musical” is the second production of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s 2015 season, which features historical characters. But while the recent production of “Freud’s Last Session” more accurately depicted Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis, “Gutenberg! The Musical” takes a cheeky look into the past.
“Don’t worry if you don’t know much about Johannes Gutenberg; the guys in the play don’t, either,” Alan said.
“Johannes Gutenberg’s life may be the focus of the musical, but the show itself is really about the two guys who wrote it,” Whitmore said. “They did it. Maybe not all that well, but they did it together. Their friendship shines through their lack of polish, and the audience can’s help but root for these guys, even if they might not be the next Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
“Gutenberg! The Musical” is a great fit for LDTC’s 21st theater season because it highlights a historical figure but imagines him in a comedic way that allows for a brand-new story to emerge, Blanchard said.
“‘Gutenberg! The Musical” is like what would happen if the Home Shopping Network was suddenly in charge of selling Broadway tickets on Public Access Television,” Whitmore said. “It’s funny, homespun and has a lot of heart carefully placed in there by our wide-eyed main characters.”
Alan said Bud and Doug are the quintessential American dreamers in this fast and heartfelt comedy.
“You’ll leave humming at least a few of the songs,” Whitmore said. “Plus, you’ll learn absolutely nothing about Johannes Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press. But it’s okay. This is a better story!”
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