As roommates in Brooklyn many years ago, Tony-nominated musical theatre writers Anthony King and Scott Brown were sitting around listening to cast albums and talking about the inherent absurdity of musicals and, even, sometimes their subject matter.
"As much as we love them..." says King. But Brown interjects, "Then it became this question of 'What would the worst idea for a musical be?'"
Then King suggests the invention of the printing press. Then the next thing you know, King and Scott are writing Gutenberg! The Musical! "We basically dared ourselves into writing this musical," says Brown.
Gutenberg! The Musical! premiered Off-Broadway in 2006 under the direction of Alex Timbers, who has spearheaded the move to Broadway. "I've loved this show for many years," says Timbers. "And then the idea to do that with two amazing stars who are virtuosic?" It was a no-brainer.
The musical celebrated its Broadway opening October 12 at the James Earl Jones Theatre. Read the reviews here.
In Gutenberg! The Musical!, Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells (who appeared together in the original company of The Book of Mormon) play Bud and Doug, two guys who have written a musical about Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. Convinced their show is ready for Broadway, they are holding a backers' performance in which they play all the parts, aided by hundreds of baseball caps adorned with the show's character names.
Timbers, whose helmed big Broadway musicals such as Moulin Rouge! and Beetlejuice, says Gutenberg! is the simplest, yet most complicated, musical he's ever directed. "The musical comedy of this show is a level of complexity I've never experienced before. These two guys are doing a Les Mis-style, big-budget musical, but they all they've got is themselves and like, 120 hats. So you have to conjure these amazing imaginative worlds with detail and precision to explain to an audience what flying into the rafters is, what a turntable is, without any of that on stage," he says.
With all of those hats, we thought we'd have a little fun on the red carpet and add just a few more. In homage to our favorite Broadway ad of all time, we had Rannells and Gad create a vintage television ad for Gutenberg! The Musical! Check that video out in our Instagram post below.
See red carpet arrival photos from opening night of Gutenberg! The Musical! in the gallery below. Guests included John Mulaney, Jimmy Fallon, Jane Krakowski, and Rannells and Gad's Book of Mormon co-stars Nikki M. James and Rory O'Malley.
Oh, and speaking of celebrities...the show itself has had a rotating cast of celebrity guest appearances. Spoiler alert...but at the end of the presentation, a producer appears to make Doug and Bud's dream a Broadway reality. The Producer has been played by Cynthia Erivo, Jonathan Groff, JJ Abrams, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Richard Kind, Nikki M. James, F. Murray Abraham, Annaleigh Ashford, Leslie Odom, Jr., and more. On opening night, The Producer of all producers appeared...Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock. Watch that clip in the link below.