That voice in my head can’t wait to tell you about Something Rotten!:
As sung in the opening number “Welcome to the Renaissance,” this show is “…fancy, very literary, and theatrical, too!” If I had to sum up Something Rotten! in one word, I’d have to say ‘clever.’ But that one word doesn’t do justice to the entire musical; it’s also funny, heartfelt, and smart.
Written by the Kirkpatrick brothers, Wayne and Karey, the story centers around two playwriting brothers, Nick and Nigel Bottom (played by Brian d’Arcy James and John Cariani, respectively), constantly in competition with William Shakespeare (played by Christian Borle). Chaos ensues when Nick seeks out a soothsayer to predict the future of the theatre…which turns out to be musicals! The writing is just SO clever- the references to other musicals and Shakespeare’s works, the play on the cross-dressing that occurred in the theatre during the time, and the show’s self-awareness, are really funny. Instead of ‘Hamlet’ they attempt to write ‘Omelette’ and I died in my seat from laughter! (Check out the numbers “Something Rotten” and “Make an Omlette” to hear how they take Shakespeare’s words and turn them on their heads- it’s worth it!) The show is funny from start to finish- the punch line of the show hits right at the final number, making the audience erupt into even more giggles.
The casting for this production is phenomenal! I was lucky enough to see the main cast in their original roles, and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect fit. Cariani as Nigel Bottom is absolutely perfection; no one could pull off insecure and goofy yet gifted little brother like he can. D’Arcy James’ Nick Bottom is earnest and lovingly silly in his attempts to “make it big.” There are no words to explain how amazing Borle is as Shakespeare; his egotistical handsome rock-star version of Shakespeare is mouthwateringly good. Brad Oscar’s Nostradamus is crazy funny- literally. He pulls of the slightly insane soothsayer superbly; there were times when he looked off into the distance and he really seemed to be looking into the future! Heidi Blickenstaff as Bea (Nick Bottom’s wife) and Kate Reinders as Portia (Nigel Bottom’s love interest) are fantastic; such voices! The cast has such a great dynamic that it makes their acting even more sincere.
And let’s not forget about the amazing ensemble! What a group of amazing triple threats; one ensemble member’s over-enthused, cheesy grin and head bobbing cracked me up every time I looked at her. The extremely popular ‘Leather Boys,’ who make their appearance as Shakespeare’s backup dancers, are super fun to watch- and not just because they’re uber good-looking ;)
At the epicenter of Something Rotten! is its heart. Despite all of his antics, Nick’s family sticks by his side; his wife disguises herself as a man in order to get work and his brother forgoes his story to help with ‘Omelette.’ That’s the central message: what family will do for each other, in good times and bad.
Full of funny one-liners, nice transitions from scene-to-song, and catchy songs, Something Rotten! is sure to thrill any musical theatre enthusiast. I would see it again in a heartbeat. I predict it will go down in history alongside the likes of The Book of Mormon.