Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Something Rotten!National Tour
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Ghosts

Richard Spitaletta and
Matthew Janisse

Photo by Jeremy Daniel
The current touring production of the moderately successful Broadway musical Something Rotten! touched down at The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall January 7 and 8, 2019.

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 product—the 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 For more information on the tour, visit

Cast (in order of appearance):
Minstrel: Devin Holloway
Brother Jeremiah: Mark Saunders
Portia: Jennifer Elizabeth Smith
Shakespeare: Matthew Baker
Nick Bottom: Matthew Janisse
Nigel Bottom: Richard Spitaletta
Francis Flute: Brian Cowing
Peter Quince: Drew Arisco
Tom Snout: Tim Fuchs
Yorick: Nick Pankuch
Robin: Robert Head
Snug: Devin Holloway
Lord Clapham: Peter Surace
Shylock: Peter Surace
Bea: Emily Kristen Morris
Eyepatch Man: Peter Surace
Nostradamus: Greg Kalafatas
Shakespeare's Valet: Nick Pankuch
Will Power Backup Boys: Zachary Bigelow, Tim Fuchs, Julian Burzynski Jr.
Chef Trio: Zachary Bigelow, Devin Holloway, Nick Pankuch
Master of the Justice: Brian Cowing
Ensemble: Drew Arisco, Abby Bartish, Emma Benson, Zachary Bigelow, Julian Burzynski Jr., Brian Cowing, Tim Fuchs, Robert Head, Devin Holloway, Kelley Anne McCormick, Nick Pankuch, Aveena Sawyer, Allison C. Scott, Peter Surace, Dorsey Ziller