Original Off-Broadway cast members Christopher Fitzgerald and Jeremy Shamos reunite (after two years) to preserve the work on disc. PS Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker is producing the recording, and anticipates a fall 2009 release.
The spoof of passionate musical theatre writers — spotlighting two desperate and bravely untalented songwriters who are performing a backers' audition for their new musical about the inventor of the printing press — opened in a six-week run at 59E59 Theaters in November 2006, before transferring to the Actor's Playhouse in January 2007, where it played an additional 14 previews and 159 performances.
Gutenberg! The Musical! was nominated for the 2007 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and the 2007 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical. Its authors were nominated for the 2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical; and its director, Alex Timbers, was nominated for the 2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical.
(Fitzgerald would later get a Tony Award nomination for his work in Young Frankenstein.)
PS Classics co-founder Philip Chaffin told Playbill.com, "I loved the show when I saw it in the spring of 2007, and we spoke with Scott and Anthony at that time about recording it — it just took us a while to put the pieces together. It's a 'better-late-than-never' scenario — or maybe it’s a 'you can't keep a good show down' scenario." Brown noted, "The show's being performed all over the country. There's been a production in Bermuda, tours in Australia and Finland. So we pretty much told Chris and Jeremy: Do this now, before we outsource it to Bulgaria."
King added, "We're so excited to get Chris and Jeremy into the studio. We only had to promise to mention their children in all future interviews. Hello Lena, Lester, and Charles."
"In this two-man musical spoof," according to earlier production notes, "a pair of aspiring playwrights, Bud Davenport (Fitzgerald) and Doug Simon (Shamos), perform a backers' audition for their new project — a big, splashy musical about printing press inventor Johann Gutenberg. With an unending supply of enthusiasm, Bud and Doug sing all the songs and play all the parts in their crass historical epic, with the hope that one of the producers in attendance will give them a Broadway contract — fulfilling their ill-advised dreams."
The original Off-Broadway company of Gutenberg! The Musical! also included Ryan Karels, and featured direction and arrangements by T.O. Sterrett. Both return for the recording.
It was presented Off-Broadway by Trevor Brown, Joseph Smith, Ron Kastner and Terry Allen Kramer in association with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.
Gutenberg! The Musical! marked the first Off-Broadway transfer for the acclaimed Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where the show was originally developed in 2003. UCBT showcased an excerpt of the musical at the 2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival as part of the NYMF Comedy Series.
The musical subsequently had its world premiere in a critically acclaimed production at The Jermyn Street Theatre in London in January 2006. All of these presentations and productions were devised and performed by the authors, Scott Brown and Anthony King.
The U.S. premiere of Gutenberg! The Musical!, starring Christopher Fitzgerald and Jeremy Shamos, was presented in September 2006 as part of the third annual New York Musical Theatre Festival, where it received three NYMF Awards — one for Excellence in Musical Theatre Writing (Book) for Scott Brown and Anthony King, and two for Outstanding Individual Performances for both Fitzgerald and Shamos.
Founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker & Philip Chaffin, and a four-time Grammy nominee (for its cast albums of Assassins, Nine: The Musical, Grey Gardens and Company), PS Classics celebrates the heritage of Broadway and American popular song through its through its critically acclaimed cast recordings; solo albums by such artists as Maureen McGovern, Victoria Clark, Jessica Molaskey, Rebecca Luker and Christine Andreas; and recording drawn from rare sound archives, including "Sondheim Sings." Recent releases include Steven Pasquale's solo disc, "Somethin' Like Love," and the GrooveLily musical Sleeping Beauty Wakes. Upcoming albums include Stephanie J. Block’s debut disc, "This Place I Know," and the original Broadway cast recording of The Story of My Life. For more information, visit www.psclassics.com.