Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Also see Bill's review of Ghosts
Written by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick (music and lyrics) and Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell (book), Something Rotten! is an homage to musical theater and those who love it. The book is very funny, but a drawback in the score is a lack of songs that would send me back to the cast album for multiple listens. The show's success on Broadway had much to do with a cast of solid Broadway pros (Brian d'Arcy James, Christian Borle, Brad Oscar, Heidi Blickenstaff) and a madcap director, Casey Nicholaw. The first national tour almost replicated that high level with actors Rob McClure and Adam Pascal. The book and score get off a lot of zinger references to legendary musicals of the past.
This bus and truck non-Equity version does a remarkable job of replicating the Broadway productthe sets and costumes look quite fine and the production is still listed as being under Mr. Nicholaw. Casting is on a high level, but with a few exceptions, the principals cannot compete with their predecessors. The real heros are the ensemble, and the dancing, an important element of this musical, is excellent.
Matthew Janisse plays one of our heros, Nick Bottom. He is a lively, energetic performer, a solid center for the cast. Richard Spitaletta is younger brother Nigel, youthful and unsure of himself. Emily Kristen Morris plays Nick's wife Bea, a standard-issue comedy female role. Jennifer Elizabeth Smith as Portia, Nigel's love interest, is winsome, but her singing can seem a bit shrill. The role of "rock star" Will Shakespeare, which won a Tony Award for Christian Borle, is played here by Matthew Baker, but he doesn't offer the comedy self-assuredness called for. Greg Kalafatas as Nostradamus is a bit generalized, although he leads "It's a Musical" with panache.
The music portion of the show is under the direction of Matthew Croft, and five musicians are listed as being in the pit, but it sounded like more.
At the performance I attended, my opinion of the overall excellence of the production was seconded by a full house, who responded strongly all evening. Here's hoping that the rest of the run is as successful.
Something Rotten! appeared January 7-8, 2019, at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota FL. For more information on the venue, call 800-826-9303 or visit www.VanWezel.org. For more information on the tour, visit www.rottenbroadway.com.
Cast (in order of appearance):