‘Gutenberg!’: A lousy musical performed proper by Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells

NEW YORK — They’re Broadway’s cutest couple, whose vows were being comically consecrated in “The E book of Mormon.” And now, they are giddily renewing them in “Gutenberg! The Musical,” the humorous little double act that experienced its formal opening Thursday evening at the James Earl Jones Theatre.

Andrew Rannells, “Mormon’s” primary Elder Price tag, and Josh Gad, the Ur-Elder Cunningham, remind us how significantly they were being made for every single other, in this affectionate sendup of musicals by Scott Brown and Anthony King. The present, which began modestly as a 1-act at off-Broadway’s Upright Citizens Brigade in 2005 and expanded to a two-act edition in London, is an endearing showcase for mischievous clowns. In other words and phrases, the casting is anything — and in this case, excellent.

Alex Timbers, the peripatetic director also represented on Broadway by “Here Lies Love” and “Moulin Rouge,” realized instinctively how a lot to shape and how typically to move apart and just permit Gad and Rannells do their matters. As the actors are virtually the entirety of “Gutenberg! The Musical” — stars, and thanks to the dozens of character-pinpointing caps they acquire on and off, supporting actors and refrain, also — it can help that their rapport has an ineffable simplicity. There is a whiff of Abbott and Costello obvious on the phase, mixed with mutual respect and peppered by theatrical friction.

Brown and King wrote the e-book for the uneven phase model of “Beetlejuice,” a musical that did not do their ingenuity as a lot justice as does “Gutenberg!” Gad’s Bud and Rannells’s Doug, two Broadway wannabes from Nutley, N.J. (it’s constantly Jersey, isn’t it?), have invited us to the James Earl Jones Theatre for a purported backers’ audition for their clearly show, just one so ghastly it would just take much more than a play health practitioner to fix it — possibly a engage in hospital.

“Gutenberg! The Musical” relies in element, but not too strenuously, on an audience’s prior information of the clichés of musical theater. It pokes light pleasurable at the desperate delusions of the borderline-talented amongst us, who hold quick to the belief that they, as well, ought to have their names up in lights. Think of Christopher Guest as the immortal, tin-eared Corky St. Clair, the revered group-theater king of Blaine, Mo. in Guest’s 1996 mockumentary, “Waiting for Guffman,” and you’ll have a photo of the home in which Brown and King are romping.

Musical theater indulges in self-referential humor way too generally to catalogue it all. It just so transpires, even though, that a different this kind of entry is being revived on Broadway this tumble: “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” a hit a short while ago at the Kennedy Middle that is rife with jokes lampooning musical conventions, typified by the priceless range, “The Tune That Goes Like This.”

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“Gutenberg!,” like “Spamalot,” delivers a type of chiropractic adjustment to the psyche in troubled moments. The only set off warning expected is a single that cautions laughter ahead.

Rannells and Gad converse to us in “Gutenberg!” as if we’re in the bunny team at a theater camp in which they’re the counselors: “What’s a ‘motif,’ Doug?” Gad’s Bud asks, glancing at the audience to enable us know he’s inquiring on our behalf. “A motif,” Rannells replies, “is when you use the identical tunes more than and around all over again, but it is not lazy.”

They’re deft actual physical comics, gleefully prowling Scott Pask’s cluttered established, and from time to time interacting with conductor Marco Paguia’s a few-member onstage band — “The Middlesex Six.” (Bud and Doug could only afford fifty percent of them. Bonus points if you know their title is a further Jersey joke.) The actors’ clean irreverence is tempered by a sweet sort of appreciation for Bud and Doug’s adore of musicals — even if the strategy of developing just one all-around Johannes Gutenberg, the 15th century German inventor of the printing push, is an affront to bad musicals almost everywhere.

The musical that is “Gutenberg! The Musical” will under no circumstances be mistaken for “West Facet Story,” but that is seriously not the position. Brown and King have packed the show with numbers that deal with to be each entertaining and as clunky as a ’67 station wagon. And composed a piece that may possibly be a little bit more fitting in a cabaret than in a Broadway theater. That is, of program, until you protected the providers of the cutest couple on Broadway.

Gutenberg! The Musical, reserve, new music and lyrics by Scott Brown and Anthony King. Directed by Alex Timbers. Set, Scott Pask costumes, Emily Rebholz lighting, Jeff Croiter sound, M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer music route, Marco Paguia orchestrations, T.O. Sterrett. About 2 hrs. By means of Jan. 28 at James Earl Jones Theatre, 138 W. 48th St., New York. gutenbergbroadway.com.

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