Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dobama: Gutenberg: The Musical

This is a play I really, really, really wanted to like. I can't say that I hated it, and parts were certainly enjoyable but on balance the script left me mildly annoyed. I know the show has a little bit of a cult following... but I didn't get what makes it cult worthy [then again, the same can probably be said for the number of times I've seen Spring Awakening].

It is, in essence, a musical about the making of an historical fiction musical based on Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. With a Holocaust, love story, and a few random dance breaks thrown in for good measure.

I've been interested in seeing Gutenberg since I saw it on Dobama's schedule but I've been saving it for this weekend because this weekend it is literally the only performing arts show to be seen (at least from the various postcards, season schedules, and emails I get) in Cleveland.

Perhaps I'm not as big of a musical theater fan as I consider myself (though I did get the foreign-language What You Own from Rent and One Night in Bangkok from the little-known Chess, a collaboration between the guys from ABBA and Tim Rice and show that I did lighting design/programming for in Southern California among the pre-show music) but I only got a handful of references to other theater.

Essentially, the gimmicks ran long but were never funny for more than the initial punch. While exuberantly acted and overacted (as apparently required by the script) the pacing and overacting was uneven and the gimmick, as with the hat gimmick to a lesser extent, didn't wear well on me. It was clear that I was seeing a carefully rehearsed play rather than a spur-of-the-moment creation (as contrasted with B-W's production of [Title of Show] back in May)

That being said I had not previously considered "Musical" and "Dobama" in the same thought; while not a full fledged musical by any stretch it was interesting to see Dobama produce a play with music.

Overall: "Eh"


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