Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
The story is set in the Renaissance. Nick Bottom and his brother Nigel (Josh Grisetti) plan to write a play for production in London. However, they're having trouble getting words down on paper. Nick visits Soothsayer Alley and talks to Nostradamus (not the famous one, his nephew). Nostradamus gets a vision of a musical (a play with music, songs, and dance) and suggests that Shakespeare will write a play called Omelette. Nick and his brother go to work to write Omelette the musical, with a chorus line costumed as eggs.
The story has interesting subplots. Nigel falls in love with Portia (Autumn Hurlbert), the daughter of a Puritan minister. Hurlbert has a lovely singing voice and wonderful comedic line delivery. Scott Cote plays her father Brother Jeremiah in, of course, a Puritan style. He doesn't approve of the theater and certainly doesn't want his daughter in a romantic relationship with a playwright. Will Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) plots ways to get lines from Nigel, who is writing a script filled with lines the audience knows will soon be written into Shakespeare's plays. Pascal makes the Bard a charming villain who is not above stealing plots and lines. Shakespeare is here a glamorous star who performs big musical numbers based on lines from his plays.
Bea (Maggie Lakis) is Nick's wife, and she supports her husband. She gathers cabbage from the dump, hunts for animals for food, and dresses like a man to get a job. She wants a baby and a cottage in the woods, but her husband wants a career in the theater. (Lakis and McClure are married off the stage, too.)
Note, Something Rotten! is a musical comedy of the old-fashioned variety and everything ends perfectly by the curtain call.
Scott Pask (scenic designer) created a set that easily flows from scene to scene. In the cartoon-like sets, Pask does not attempt to achieve realism. This is a utilitarian set filled with anachronisms and it services the production well. Gregg Barnes (costume design) has dressed the cast in appropriate Renaissance clothing that is pleasantly exaggerated and delightfully colorful.
The story was conceived by the brothers, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick. They also wrote the music and lyrics. The music is upbeat, bright and perfect for telling the story. The lyrics are filled with anachronisms and help move the storyline forward. The lyrics dance with references to other Broadway showsAnnie, A Chorus Line, Chicago, Dreamgirls and many, many more.
Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell wrote the book, which again references other musical shows and plots from Shakespeare's plays. Casey Nicholaw directed and choreographed this wonderful mixture of funny stories, music, lyrics and dance. He is responsible for bringing people like me back time and time again to see this lavish production. If the company had been willing to perform the show one more time, I would have stayed in my seat and enjoyed seeing the production one more time.
What a joy Something Rotten! is. The show has been booked in Cleveland for three weeks, a bit longer than most cities.
Of local note: many Cleveland audience members are familiar with the work of ensemble member Lucy Anders. She is a graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College in Cleveland and has been seen locally in A Little Night Music (Anne), A Chorus Line (Maggie), and Follies (Heidi).
Something Rotten!, at the Connor Palace, Playhouse Square, through May 14, 2017. For ticket Information: call 216-640-8800 or visit www.playhousesquare.org/broadway. For more information on the tour, visit rottenbroadway.com.
Book: Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell