His name is pronounced the same, with a slightly different spelling, but there has been no announcement of distant blood ties to the show's subject — Johann Gutenberg, of printing-press fame.
For the critically acclaimed Lucille Lortel Award-nominated musical spoof about desperate musical comedy writers, this is a chance to get word out "about what the show is, and what it isn't," producer Trevor Brown told Playbill.com.
Off-Broadway marketing observers told Playbill.com this new campaign might suggest that somebody failed to get word out about what the show was about in the first place.
"Why is there no cast album?" asked a source close to the production. "This show has been around New York since summer 2006, and it lacks a basic marketing tool for a musical."
(Producer Brown said a future cast album is expected, as is a regional and international life for the show.) So-called viral marketing is a way to bang the drum using non-traditional avenues, be it planting something on the internet, scrawling graffiti around town or dropping leaflets from airplanes.
Guttenberg, known for such films as "Cocoon" and "Police Academy," saw the marquee of the musical at the Actors Playhouse in Greenwich Village when he was in the neighborhood and thought he'd check out the show. He reportedly liked it, and offered to help spread the word.
Working with the Gutenberg! producer Brown and authors Scott Brown and Anthony King, Guttenberg took part in a YouTube video in which King and Brown play fans who see Steve at the theatre and think the show's about him. He is "comically harassed" is how Variety puts it.
The show's extended but limited engagement is slated to continue to June 3 at Actors Playhouse in Greenwich Village.
To view the YouTube video, an example of viral marketing, visit http://www.GutenbergTheMusical.com.
Directed by Obie Award-winner Alex Timbers, Gutenberg! The Musical! was recently nominated for the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical, and currently features Darren Goldstein as Doug Simon and David Turner as Bud Davenport.
The performance schedule for Gutenberg! The Musical! is as follows: Tuesday through Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 7 and 10 PM, and Sunday at 3 and 7 PM through Sunday, June 3. Tickets for Gutenberg! are scaled at $35-$65 and are available via Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200.
(All seats for the late performance on Saturday evenings at 10 PM are priced at $35.) For more information, visit www.gutenbergthemusical.com.