Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gutenberg! The Musical!

UPDATE: Thanks to Bud Davenport for offering a link to the play's trailer here.

Bud Davenport and Doug Simon want to be on Broadway more than you can imagine. We're not 100% sure that they necessarily have the talent and we know they don't have the cash, but we do know that they have the drive, the heart and soul, and maybe that's what they and the musical world really needs.

In Gutenberg! The Musical!, written by Anthony King & Scott Brown and directed by Les Freres Corbusier founder and artistic director Alex Timbers, Bud and Doug do what they can to bring their Little Musical That Could to Broadway.

Gutenberg! The Musical! was first developed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, then played at the NY Musical Theatre Festival and enjoyed a six-week run at 59E59 Theaters, has now transferred to off-Broadway. This attention and success is very deserved and founded. You should check it out to see what I mean.

A musical-within-a-play, Gutenberg! The Musical! is about two aspiring musical writers, Bud Davenport (played by David Turner) and Doug Simon (Jeremy Shamos), presenting the audience a backers' audition of a musical they wrote about Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, in the hopes that there are Big-Timey Producers in the house to make their dreams of going to Broadway come true. Since Bud and Doug have no money to put on the show (or to hire a cast), they play all the roles themselves, using labeled baseball caps (with labels such as "Drunk #1" & "Drunk #2," "Monk," "Anti-Semitic Flower Girl" and "Old Black Narrator") to indicate which roles they're playing (for large chorus lines or ensemble numbers, they tie a number of hats together with string and attach them to sticks).

The story itself about Gutenberg and his printing press...well, it doesn't really matter. (You're not really coming to this expecting to get a history lesson of the origin of the printing press, are you?) The play isn't exactly about the printing press and the evil monk who wants it destroyed to keep the masses illiterate and Helvetica (the heroine, named after the font) who loves Gutenberg: it's about Bud and Doug trying to present their little opus to us.

It's very, very funny.

There were a number of lines throughout the show that I was laughing so hard I became self-conscious. (One scene in particular was when, to stall for time, Doug describes to the audience a scene they didn't write about how the evil monk tortures the heroine Helvetica and gets slightly caught up in the sexual overtones of such a hypothetical scene.)

To be honest, it took the start of the second act for the play to fully win me over. I was initially a bit dubious about the metafictional play-within-a-play conceit because, well, it's been done so many times before. This isn't the fault of the play or the production; I've seen enough episodes of Mr. Show and South Park to have a bit of a cynical "been there, done that" attitude when it comes to ironic self-conscious musical pieces. That doesn't mean I wasn't finding it funny or entertaining in the first act (I was), I just had a tough time dropping my innate skepticism.

That being said, Mr. Turner and Mr. Shamos played the roles so well and with such sharp comic timing (they deliver blatantly offensive lines with such naïveté and obliviousness you can't help but laugh) that my fears of this being a navel-gazing "aren't-we-too-cute-for-words" show subsided by the time the second act began. They won me over.

The play simultaneously lampoons and picks apart the various clichés and conventions of the musical theatre genre and honors and adheres to them (not unlike the way, say, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut did), playing the rock song for the "Act One Rock Finale," the forlorn love song for the heroine, the "charm" song (preferably to be played by someone who used to be famous, like John Candy). Bud and Doug also make a point to refer to the Holocaust (because, y'know, every great Broadway musical has to refer to Some Important Issue to give it some gravitas).

Watching this play, I noticed something interesting happen. I genuinely felt for these dorky wannabes and wanted them to get that Broadway contract they were vying for. Despite how "by-the-numbers" their musical was and despite a lot of the ironic comedy permeated throughout Gutenberg! The Musical!, there's such a sweet, un-ironic humanity to Bud and Doug that made me excited for them to get their very silly play off the ground. I left the theatre smiling.

Gutenberg! The Musical! is playing at the Actors' Playhouse on 100 Seventh Avenue South just below Christopher Street. For tickets go here.

Eating dreams,

James "Evil Monk" Comtois

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Hot dog!

There's a Wikipedia entry for "Off-Off-Broadway" and Nosedive Productions is one of the "Notable Off-Off-Broadway theatre companies and venues" listed in it!

Feelin' like somebody,

James "A Guy" Comtois

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Two Items Down...

...and many more to go.

Suburban Peepshow is now cast and ready to start rehearsals and the Just Say Nosedive fundraiser is over and done with, which is a big relief. I'm super-glad that the video sketches Shooting Babar and Celebrety MySpace went over like gangbusters (with a little luck, these should be posted online very soon). Not surprisingly, I ended up getting home after the show/shindig around five a.m., so I'm still trying to recuperate.

Many thanks go out to everyone who came out on Saturday night to partake of the silliness and many thanks go out to everyone who helped with and performed in the show.

For those of you that couldn't make it, there's obviously no harm done. I'll still make out with you. (You already knew that though, didn't you?) But if for some reason you are feeling particularly guilty (heh, heh), you can always donate to Nosedive Productions by clicking here. Trust me, you'll feel better in no time.

This evening I take part in a podcast roundtable discussion along with Kiss and Cry author Tom Rowan. I'll let you all know when it gets posted on NYTheatre.com. Of course, the cyber-interview was done online, so I was able to keep the stammering to a minimum. We shall see how I fare while actually trying to, y'know, speak my thoughts out loud.

Anyway, my review/assessment of Gutenberg! The Musical! should be posted sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, stay warm, troopers.

The bitchiest little unicorn,

James "Princess" Comtois

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

This Saturday: Just Say NOSEDIVE!

Nosedive Productions presents

Just Say Nosedive!

Nosedive's Annual Peer Outreach Debauchery Fundraiser Show

Comedy. Music. Drinking. Can-Do Attitude.

Saturday, February 24 at the EAT Studio Space on 311 West 43rd Street,
5th Floor (between 8th and 9th avenues)

Doors open at 10 p.m., show starts around 11 or so.

$20 at the door, All You Can Drink.

Money for this fundraiser goes to our spring show, Suburban Peepshow.

If (for some reason) you don't like staying up mildly late on a Saturday night in New York City (I'm seriously still not buyin' it), but still have a soft-spot for that Lil' Theatre Company That Might, click here to make a donation to Nosedive.

Ready to amuse,

James "Mr. Sunshine" Comtois

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What I've Been Up To (Hint: Nothing To Write Home About)

Sorry I've been so MIA in these pages. Oddly enough, it's not because there hasn't been much going on in Jimmy's Land of Theatrical Make-Believe; quite the opposite, in fact.

We here at Nosedive Central have been writing the sketches for Saturday night's Just Say Nosedive fundraiser show, which you should all attend. It'll be fun and funny. (Seriously, folks. It's only $20 to drink all you can drink all night long. And there'll be some comedy sketches thrown into the mix as well. Just keep drinking until we're funny.)

Pete and I are also holding the final auditions this week for two open roles in Suburban Peepshow. I believe we have a decent pool from which to choose, so I'm confident we'll remain on schedule.

I've also been handing off my comp copies of Plays and Playwrights 2007 to the cast and crew of The Adventures of Nervous-Boy.

Last night I saw Gutenberg: The Musical! at the Actor's Playhouse, about which I'll be writing early next week.

And that's really what’s happening over at my end of the barnyard. I suppose after we cast Peepshow and Just Say Nosedive is over and done with I'll be able to return to my regular blogging schedule.

Enjoying Ash Wednesday,

James "The Lent Machine" Comtois

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Just Sayin' Hey After Valentine's Day

Last night, rather than engage in my usual Valentine's Day routine (which consists of me running around town in a diaper shooting people with arrows), I picked up hard copies of the Plays and Playwrights 2007 anthology, which I have to say look hot. I guess I can now officially impress the ladies at the bars by using the moniker of "Published New York Playwright" ('cause I sure as hell ain't telling them my name).

Again, anyone interested in purchasing a copy can do so by clicking on the icon on the right-hand side of this blog. In addition to The Adventures of Nervous-Boy, the anthology features some other excellent plays, including Boo Killebrew's They're Just Like Us, which was one of the ten best plays I had seen in 2006 (I flipped through Ms. Killebrew's play last night, which reads just as well as it plays). I'm planning to read Andy Chmelko's The Office Sonata next.

There are a number of plays I'm hoping to see this weekend. Whether I see all, some or none of them depend on me having enough time and there being seats available. Tonight I plan on seeing David Johnston's adaptation of The Oresteia at the Access Theater.

Anyway, for people of the romantic (or relationship-bound) persuasion, I hope you all had a good Valentine's Day yesterday.

Hearts in his eyes and chocolates in his pockets,

James "Unnerving Cupid" Comtois

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Saturday, February 24

Since I'm in "blatant plugging" mode...

Nosedive Productions presents

Just Say Nosedive!

Nosedive's Annual Peer Outreach Debauchery Fundraiser Show

Comedy. Music. Drinking. Can-Do Attitude.

Saturday, February 24 at the EAT Studio Space on 311 West 43rd Street,
5th Floor (between 8th and 9th avenues)

Doors open at 10 p.m., show starts around 11 or so.

$20 at the door, All You Can Drink.

Money for this fundraiser goes to our spring show, Suburban Peepshow.

Showing the world the light,

James "Good Citizen" Comtois

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Coming in April...

Art by Dan Boisvert

Nosedive Productions presents

Suburban Peepshow

A new comedy by James Comtois

Directed by Pete Boisvert

The Red Room

85 East 4th Street (West of 2nd Ave)

April 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-28

Thursday through Saturday, 8 p.m.

Tickets on sale soon.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Plays and Playwrights 2007

You can order the latest edition of Plays and Playwrights (featuring The Adventures of Nervous-Boy) direct at shop.nyte.org in order to take advantage of free shipping.

It's also available on Amazon.

The official "release" party for the book will take place on Monday, March 5 (the day after my birthday, for those who are interested). I'll of course keep everyone posted as developments unfold.

And a big "Sloppy Kiss Thank You" goes out to Matthew Freeman. He knows why. I guess I owe you some flowers there, Matt. Or maybe just a serious makeout session. Whichever.

Shilling like he hasn't shilled before,

James "Shilly Shilleson" Comtois

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Nattering

We've shot and edited our first video sketch for our Feb. 24th fundraiser show, which I think audiences will find either very funny or very scary or possibly both. The folks here at Nosedive Central have been writing mulling over ideas for sketches for a little while now and will probably meet up to do some actual writing in the next week or two. It'll be a fun evening...although no, I will not be brushing my teeth and drinking a large glass of orange juice (like I did for our holiday party).

It'll be on Saturday, February 24th at the EAT Studio Space on 311 West 43rd Street, 5th Floor (between 8th and 9th avenues). Admission is $20, with all the booze you can drink.

Doors open at 10 p.m., "show" starts around 11 or so, drinking and debauchery goes until dawn.

The reason why I've been pretty mum around these here parts is because, in addition to being preoccupied with trying to get my money back from the bank and Home Depot, I had wanted to write something on Kirby Dick's documentary, This Film is Not Yet Rated, and about the MPAA Ratings Board in general, but it ended up being a bit more unwieldy than I had expected. (The ratings board for movies does get my blood up. A weird pet issue, I know, but there you are.) It's one of those situations where I either have too little or too much to write about on the subject.

(I know that most bloggers use Friday as a chance to do their "Friday Random Ten" but considering I don't own an iPod and actually don't really listen to music too much [no, I'm not kidding] that's pretty much out. Over at CollisionWork, Ian W. Hill does his Friday Cat Blogging, but since I have no cats to blog about, that's also out. Plus, Ian's asked me to stop posting photographs of his pets. He's finding it really creepy that I sneak into his home when he's not around to take pictures.)

With a little luck, I'll be able to finish and revise the movie ratings entry sometime next week to make it resemble something coherent rather than a weird rant that's all over the map.

In the meantime, have a good weekend, folks.

A fictitious elephant king,

James "Babar" Comtois

Ps. On a side note, I'd like to extend happy birthday wishes to fellow theatre blogger Mark "Mr. Excitement" Armstrong. Happy birthday, Mark!


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Scattershot Entry From A Cranky Playwright

This entry is going to be short, because right now I'm bogged down with a lot of identity theft nonsense: some fuckhead used my debit card number to spend $500 at Home Depot, leaving me in a bit of a financial bind until my bank can sort everything out and get me my money refunded. Patrick had pointed out that there was a chance that I had “drunk bought” a table saw, but since there's nary a table saw to be found in my apartment, it's probably not the case.

Yeah, I'm pretty fucking thrilled about all of this. Or should I write:



* * *

In general update news, Mr. Mac Rogers has sent in his first draft of a curtain raiser we'll be using for the opening of Suburban Peepshow. It's a ten-minute piece called "Trailers," a parody of...well...movie trailers that had us here at Nosedive Central laughing quite a bit after reading it. It looks to be a great way to warm up the audience for the silliness that will ensue. I'm looking forward to people seeing it.

It's looking like our February 24 fundraiser show will be another late-night event (we'll most likely open the doors at 10 p.m. and start the show around 11 p.m.).

We're still thinking of a title for it. I still suggest to the crew we go with, Hey, Wanna Make it With a He-Bitch? – Nosedive's Annual Fundraiser, but I'm guessing that the folks in the Nosedive Gestapo are going to yet again shoot my idea down (Nazi bastards).

Whatever we call it, we're pretty sure it'll be fun and funny.

Anyway, that's what's going on over here at Nosedive Productions.

I gotta get back on the phone with my bank to yell some more.

Trying to get his money back,

James "GAAAHH!" Comtois

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Cyber-Interview With NYTheatre.com

Wow, Mr. Matthew Freeman actually “scooped” me on this. My cyber-interview with NYTheatre.com is up.

Hiding behind the sofa
whenever the Daleks appear,

James “Davros” Comtois

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Drinkin' Ourselves Stoopid

To give everyone a heads-up about Nosedive Central's upcoming shenanigans, Nosedive Productions will have its fundraising comedy show and party on Saturday, February 24 in the EAT Studio Space on 311 West 43rd Street, 5th Floor (between 8th and 9th avenues).

(Yes, it's in the same location as Good Night, And Get Laid, but not in the theatre itself. You'll see.)

We haven't yet picked a time or a title, but as is the case with all of these shows, it's $20, and all you can drink, all night long.

All the money will go to funding our April show, Suburban Peepshow.

I'll offer more details as they unfold. In the meantime, keep yer stick on the ice and have a good weekend, folks.

Done with this week like a rash,

James "Tingly" Comtois

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Onion: Movies on the Big or Small Screen?

Onion Av Club film critics Noel Murray and Scott Tobias debate over whether it's better or even necessary to watch and appreciate films in movie theatres (as opposed to on television sets). I've been debate this idea in my head for a while now, although truth be told the last few times I've gone to the movie theatre I haven't experienced the oft-repeated nightmare scenarios of other patrons treating the theatre like their own living room.

(Well, that's not entirely true. When I went to go see Renaissance I had to tell some confused couple speaking at full volume - rather sternly - to shut up. But since they did, and I felt mildly guilty for being so blunt and harsh about it, it was hardly a nightmare scenario.)

Anyway, check it out.

Taking his pants off at movie theatres,

James "Comfy Patron" Comtois

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