'Gutenberg! The Musical' director makes theater his life
Stephen Nachamie has New York roots, not a bad thing when you've decided to make theater your life.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Boston. He's fallen in love with the Hub. "I directed a show at the New Repertory Theatre last fall and really enjoyed the Boston theater scene," says Nachamie. When Rick Lombardo, the theater's artistic director, called Nachamie earlier this year to see if he was interested in directing and choreographing "Gutenberg! The Musical," he signed up right away.
OK, so the show was practically a stranger to Nachamie. "I'd heard that it was a fun show, but I never saw it."
"Gutenberg!" goes up at the New Rep's black box space Saturday, Oct. 4, and runs through Oct. 26. Nachamie says, "It's about two guys who've written a musical, and as far as they're concerned it's the most important story ever and needs to be told. Their dream is to bring it to Broadway."
Cue songs and laughter. "There's a lot of choreography and comedy," says Nachamie.
It's a tough show for the lead actors. "They're on stage all the time," says Nachamie.
Brendan McNab, who plays Bud, had to audition to get a sense of what the show was about. "I knew it had played Off-Broadway, but I wasn't familiar with it."
"Bud," says McNab, "is an innocent, still living in his parents' basement."
This is McNab's second show at New Rep. He's an Army brat. "We moved every couple of years. Once we moved from Hawaii to Kansas. It was the first time I saw snow." McNab and his wife, Rebeka, reside in Braintree for now while he explores the Boston theater scene deeper.
He majored in musical theater at Millikin College in Illinois. "Some of the rehearsals started at midnight. It was quite an experience." Still, he couldn't get enough. "I was like a glutton at a buffet."
After graduating he tested the Chicago theater life. Basically, it was acting with no pay. He moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where his parents lived. McNab managed a marina, took roles in community theater and sang in the church choir. "Then things started stagnating." The theater beckoned again or, rather it never left him. He was accepted at Boston Conservatory and felt very comfortable in the city. "Everyone was real nice and receptive. So I stuck around.
"I felt there was more opportunity here than jumping in the big pond, New York City."
Nachamie calls McNab "an inventive comedic actor." Nachamie is developing a couple of new musicals ticketed for New York. He'll also be directing "Oliver" on Long Island. He's a busy man. "It's been good," he says.
After graduating from NYU where he studied acting, he joined tours of such classics as "Evita" and "West Side Story," but it was when he was in a production of "Chorus Line" that he began leaning towards directing. Using his own material - musicals and straight shows - he'd written Nachamie acted and directed all over the country.
For the past 15 years, he's been directing only. "I've directed in New Hampshire and Maine. I love everything about the New England area. Theater thrives."
Doing "Gutenberg!" in the black box enhances the show, says Nachamie. "It's very important because the actors talk to the audience. This is a smartly written show, and it's silly."
McNab agrees. "I don't think I've ever laughed so hard" doing a show.
When he was 8, McNab's grandparents had a piano. He began taking lessons. When the family moved, the piano went with them. He also took up the French horn. When he was a first-grader, McNab sang in a church choir. "I did a solo. My parents made a big deal out of it."
It wasn't just McNab's parents who appreciated his voice. "I got a fan letter. That's when I think I got bit by the bug."
It may not be the New York scene, but McNab and Nachamie are really starting to feel at home in Boston.
Tickets for "Gutenberg! The Musical" can be ordered at www.newrep.org or by calling 617-923-8487.
Lenny Megliola is a MetroWest Daily News columnist. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.