BWW Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN! is a Musical Lover's Delight
Equally parts, bawdy, bright and brash, SOMETHING ROTTEN!, playing through July 23 at the Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph) is a musical lover's delight.
Songwriting brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick and co-book author John O'Farrell have crafted an original musical that derives much of the laughs at the expense of Shakespeare and musicals, but, much like Gerard Alessandrini's Forbidden Broadway series that includes the production of SPAMILTON currently playing at the Royal George, the laughs come from a place of love and respect.
Brother Nick and Nigel Bottom (Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti, respectively) own a rival theater company to Shakespeare's Globe. Nigel is the resident playwright and sensitive poet type who doesn't trust his own talents. Nick is just tired of his company being overshadowed by the Bard's.
Nick decides to employ Thomas Nostradamus (Blake Hammond as the nephew of the famous seer who has inherited a somewhat watered down version of his uncle's abilities of prediction) to peer into the future to see what the next big thing in theater will be. The results are the bona fide big, glitzy Broadway showstopper "A Musical." Hammond's performance here (and, frankly, throughout the rest of the show) is one of pure comedic genius. The musical zingers come fast and furious, but homages include "Annie," "Chicago," "Pippin," and "A Chorus Line," just to name a few. Nostradamus succeeds in convincing Nick to produce the first-ever musical against the better judgement of his brother Nigel.
As the Bard, Adam Pascal (OBC RENT) is appropriately pompous and arrogant. His Shakespeare is full of Mick Jagger swagger with a heap of David Bowie's flair for dramatic costumes. It makes it easy to identify with Nick's hatred, but you don't really feel for Shakespeare the way you should with his second act number "Hard to Be the Bard."
As Portia's judgement, sexually ambiguous father, Scott Cote is a bit too much of a stereotype, as is Jeff Brooks' borscht belt Shylock. Director Casey Nicholaw may wish to have both actors dial it back a bit. I actually winced a few times, which is not something that happened when I caught the original Broadway production.
Despite the occasional ham, SOMETHING ROTTEN! serves up a deliciously fun ode to musical theater, though.
SOMETHING ROTTEN! runs through July 23 at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. Tickets $27-$108. Call 800.775.2000.