Theater Review: Something Rotten!

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This bodacious Broadway musical delivers the most delicious serving of eggs imaginable.

Broadway at TPAC presents:

Something Rotten! (June 27 – July 2; Ages 12 & older)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 • tpac.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $30 – $80

I’ll admit it. Shakespeare on his own bores me to death. Always has. When Something Rotten! first hit Broadway in 2015, it would have been easy to pass it by at first glance with the mere mention of a Shakespeare theme set in 1595. That is, until digging a little deeper to realize a central theme to the irreverent over-the-top comedy centers around the idea that maybe “The Bard” really wasn’t all that. The show’s creative team, Wayne Kirkpatrick and brother Karey Kirkpatrick, is a greater reason to experience this show.

The Kirkpatrick brothers are the brainchild behind Something Rotten! with Karey co-writing the book with John O’Farrell and contributing to the music and lyrics with Wayne. Karey began his career as a screen and songwriter for Disney Animation. He has more than a dozen feature films under his belt, including favorites like Chicken Run, Charlotte’s Web, James and the Giant Peach and more.

Wayne is a Grammy Award-winning songwriter. While he might not be a household name, you’ve certainly heard his handiwork. He’s written huge hits for the likes of Amy Grant, Eric Clapton, Little Big Town, Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, Babyface, Peter Frampton and many more. Being a big fan of Wayne’s songwriting prowess, it’s great fun to experience this side of his creative genius. His impeccable turn-of-a-phrase skill is pure magic on the theatrical stage.

In short order, Something Rotten! is pure fun and a fantastic two-and-a-half-hour escape from everyday life. Highly entertaining, this musical prompts many side-splitting laughs along the way.

SYNOPIS SNIPPET

The show focuses on two brothers, Nick and Nigel Bottom, deftly played by Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti, respectively. The brothers are a play-writing duo in Elizabethan England. Their competition is William Shakespeare. The brothers’ loathing of “The Bard” is made known at the beginning of the show with the relatable “God, I Hate Shakespeare!” number.

When Nick goes to see a soothsayer, Thomas Nostradamus (the bumbling nephew of the famous seer) to capitalize on Shakespeare’s next big idea, two things surface. Nostradamus’ vision misinterprets the forthcoming Hamlet as Omelette and foresees musicals as being the next big thing. Therefore, Nick takes the lead on putting those two ideas together to create Omelette the Musical. Believe me, there has never been a more delicious serving of eggs than this!

In between, other storylines exist while lovingly poking fun at Shakespeare, formulaic musicals and people who take themselves too seriously.

Witty dialogue, clever lyrics and snazzy choreography catapult Something Rotten! into a league of its own. There’s no lull in the mix here. It’s a full joy ride of unbridled fun start to finish.

A WORLD OF TALENT

The cast comprises a lot of mind-blowing talent, and many of the actors have significant Broadway backgrounds. Aside from McClure, Grisetti and Adam Pascal (Shakespeare) being in the Broadway cast of Something Rotten!, they have other notable credits on their resumes.

McClure originated the title role in Chaplin the Musical. If Pascal’s name sounds familiar to you, you’re probably a fan of Rent. Pascal originated the role of rock musician Roger Davis in the Off-Broadway, Broadway and London productions of the musical.

Pascal infuses the perfect rock-and-roll energy into his Shakespeare role, which is succinct given the character is portrayed as the rock star icon of his day.

Blake Hammond presents an unforgettable Nostradamus, leading the way in Act I’s showstopping “A Musical,” which garnered a well-deserved standing ovation on opening night. This number kicks off the production’s homage to Broadway musicals. From here through the end of the show, savvy theater-goers will pick up the nods toward favorites like Annie, Cabaret, Dreamgirls, Guys and Dolls, Mary Poppins, Hello, Dolly!, Fiddler on the Roof, Les Miserables, West Side Story, A Chorus Line, Chicago and more.

In addition, Scott Cote delivers a spot-on delightful delivery of Brother Jeremiah, the staunch Puritan (and father of Portia, played by the fantastic Autumn Hurlbert) whose typical, conservative, judgmental attitude serves as a cover for his own flamboyant secret.

A dose of adult language peppers some of the musical numbers, so keep that in mind if you’re taking the kids to this one. All in all, it’s refreshing to be able to laugh at ultimately ourselves throughout the course of this rollicking experience. 

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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