BWW Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN! Is Great Witty Tuneful Fun
SOMETHING ROTTEN! is a musical comedy with a book by John O'Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick and music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick. Set in 1595, it tells the story of the Bottom brothers, Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel (Pierce Cassedy), and their struggle to produce a show that isn't overshadowed by their contemporary William Shakespeare (Adam Pascal). The show opened on Broadway in 2015 and was nominated for multiple Tony Awards and ran for 745 performances. This touring production launched earlier this year.
The show opens with "Welcome to the Renaissance" where a character known simply as The Minstrel (Nick Rashad Burroughs) welcomes us to the period by telling us about the inventions, accomplishments, and customs of the time. Nick Bottom runs a theatre company along with his brother Nigel. They are busy rehearsing their next play "Richard II", while Shakespeare is opening "Romeo and Juliet". Lord Clapham (Joel Newsome), a patron who raises funds for the brothers tells them that Shakespeare is doing his own "Richard II". Clapham tells them that if they don't have a new play by tomorrow, he is cutting them off.
At home, Nick's wife Bea (Maggie Lakis), tells him how she could help by doing things that Nick claims are jobs for men. Nick steals from their Money Box to seek the advice of a soothsayer. The soothsayer he finds is namEd Thomas Nostradamus (Blake Hammond), the nephew of the famous soothsayer. When Nick asks what the next big thing in theatre will be, Thomas tells him it will be a musical.
The number "A Musical" is a riotously funny number that includes references to numerous famous musicals. In six hilarious minutes, they cover pretty much every important musical in this delightful showstopper. The whole show is crammed full of witty references, clever dance routines and catchy songs. It manages to both celebrate the musical form and send it up at the same time.
Director and choreographer Casey Nicholas has done a wonderful job staging this show and the choreography is especially enjoyable, one dazzling highlight being the tap challenge between McClure and Pascal. The show is utterly engaging with tons of charm.
Gregg Barnes costumes are colorful and period perfect. Jeff Croiter's lighting design works wonders on Scott Pask's clever unit set. One unfortunate problem on the night I attended was Peter Hylenaki's sound design. The balance between the orchestra and the actors was off, making it very hard to hear the lyrics, which caused a lot of these very witty lyrics to be difficult to understand. Since it was opening night, it will hopefully be straightened out for subsequent performances.
There isn't a bad performance to be seen here; however, some are standouts worth individual mention. Scott Cote is hilarious as Brother Jeremiah, getting big laughs from his gestures and physicality. Autumn Hurlbert is a goofily charming Portia with a beautiful voice. Rob McClure and Pierce Cassedy are terrific as the brothers Bottom. The absolute scene stealer though is Blake Hammond as Thomas Nostradamus delivering a marvelously funny performance that will leave you in stitches. Also worth noting are the Will Power Backup Boys (Daniel Beeman, Drew Franklin, Ralph Meitzler and Con O'Shea-Creal) whose precision and flair make for excitingly executed choreography.
A completely original new musical is a rare thing these days and seldom is it done with as much wit and style as SOMETHING ROTTEN! If you like your musicals funny and flashy you can't go wrong by seeing this one.
SOMETHING ROTTEN!: Book by John O'Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick, Music and Lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick.
Running time: Two Hours and Thirty Minutes including Intermission
Please note that current Bass Concert Hall policy does not permit exiting the building at intermission. If you go outside, you will not be allowed back in. Women are advised that purses will be inspected. Be prepared to pay to park.
SOMETHING ROTTEN, presented by Lexus Broadway In Austin, at Bass Concert Hall in the Texas Performing Arts Center (2350 Robert Dedman Dr, Austin, TX 78712). Performances run through Jun. 4th. Tickets start at $35.00.
Ticket info 512-471-1444 or www.BroadwayInAustin.com