Friday, September 22, 2023
HomeFashionGood Press: Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells Return to the Stage in...

Good Press: Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells Return to the Stage in ‘Gutenberg! The Musical!’

“No,” King replies with a laugh. “This is completely insane.”

When Gad, Rannells, and I reconvene at Il Brigante, a quaint Italian restaurant not far from the South Street Seaport Museum, they’re still cracking each other up, several hours later. Timbers likens their joyful dynamic to that of the great comedic duos of the last century: “You think about Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, Mike Nichols and Elaine May—it’s not the lengthiest list.”

For the actors, their chemistry is practically compulsive, and it’s been that way since Mormon, when they starred as hapless missionaries-​slash-partners-in-crime. (Both departed the show after a year, in 2012.) “A part of the fun of Mormon was that when we were onstage together, we just tried to make each other laugh,” Gad says. “We genuinely have this admiration and joy for breaking the other.”

Keeping things under control for Gutenberg! is “going to be really difficult,” says Rannells.

“Audiences should be aware,” adds Gad, an impish glint in his eye.

It wasn’t actually Gad’s plan to take a decade-long break between Broadway roles; in the interim, as Rannells led productions of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Falsettos, and The Boys in the Band and Gad worked mostly in film and television, they’d been carrying on separate conversations with Timbers, while also looking for something to do together. Finally, Timbers approached them both about Gutenberg!, which had been rattling around in his head for years. The group gathered for a reading in Los Angeles, the quick takeaway being that Gad and Rannells simply had to do it. There was a lot to love—ridiculous lyrics like “When I got out of bed today, history was a lot more boring / But then I thought in a different way, now the bird of inspiration’s soaring”—but what perhaps appealed most was the rendering of Bud and Doug. “They really are fans of each other, and there’s not any sort of snark to it,” Rannells reflects. “It’s rare, because—I sound like an old man saying this, a lot of humor these days…”

“…is cynical,” Gad offers.

“Yeah, it’s very cynical,” Rannells says. “I am snarky as fuck, so I get it. But it’s nice to get to play two people who are really, truly joyful about what they’re doing.” They may know virtually nothing about the real Gutenberg—after all, they give him a romantic interest named Helvetica—but Bud and Doug obviously adore the theater. “As you’re watching the show, you know what musicals they’ve seen,” says Timbers. “They love Les Mis, they love My Fair Lady, they love Oklahoma!”

So, Gutenberg! had its stars. “It was immediate, I think, to both of us that this was the thing,” Gad says. Then comes the perfect punch line—and the awful truth: “That was March of 2020.”

Suffice it to say that three years later, Gad and Rannells are entering a somewhat wobbly theater landscape. Yet neither one seems overly concerned about how Gutenberg! will fare this fall, even as it goes head-to-head with flashy new revivals of Merrily We Roll Along and Purlie Victorious. To them, Gutenberg! ’s small scale is an asset: While Broadway’s James Earl Jones Theatre, which normally seats about 1,100, is surely one of the biggest venues that the show has ever played to (on YouTube, I found a full-length production ostensibly staged in a high school classroom), Timbers has conspired to make it feel as cozy as possible, removing several first-row seats and bringing the proscenium slightly forward. The effect, he says, is that “our stage pushes past the fourth wall. All of that stuff accumulates to create something that feels really intimate, like you and Josh and Andrew are all sitting in the living room together.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Featured NEWS