BWW Review: Brilliantly Funny SOMETHING ROTTEN! at The Fox Theatre
I know that some critics will probably refer to Monty Python's Flying Circus or the work of Mel Brooks when they try to explain the appeal of SOMETHING ROTTEN!. There are some similarities to both, but the fact is, this show (book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell with Music and Lyrics by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick) is actually something uniquely original. Sure a lot of contemporary musicals have taken the opportunity to crack wise while parodying musical theatre tropes before, but never as thoroughly and hilariously. The current touring show at The Fox Theatre is just great fun, and I highly recommend that you attend!
Nick and Nigel Bottom (yes, it's chock full of Shakespeare references, but soon you'll know why) are playwrights who are working during the same period in history, the late 1590's, that William Shakespeare was. While Nigel worships "the Bard", Nick is livid, having fired him as an actor in their troupe before he went on to have a string of successes. Frustrated when their latest play is knocked out the water because Shakespeare just delivered his take on Richard II, Nick consults a soothsayer to find out what direction he should go next, and later, what the name of Shakespeare's greatest play will be so that he can produce it first. Naturally, things don't quite work out as planned.
Rob McClure, a welcome and familiar face to St. Louis audiences for his many wonderful MUNY appearances, delivers a great performance as Nick, positvely desperate for a hit that will change his fortune. McClure shines on a number of songs, but makes a perfect first impression with "God I Hate Shakespeare." Josh Grisetti is also very sharp as his naive younger brother Nigel, who writes the bulk of the material, and finds love with the Puritan Portia, played winsomely by the perky and giggly Autumn Hurlbert. Scott Cote is a riot as her father, the duplicitous Brother Jeremiah. Adam Pascal gets to play Shakespeare as a bit of a rock star and rogue, and gets the energetic "Will Power" to strut his stuff. Maggie Lakis (McClure's real life wife in a smart bit of casting) plays Nick's devoted wife Bea, who does solid work throughout, but gets to make her mark with "Right Hand Man." Blake Hammond nearly steals the show in the sidesplitting role of Nostradamus's nephew Thomas. His visions provide the template for a number of tunes, including "A Musical," that manages to reference dozens of famous musicals, both stylistically and directly. Jeff Brooks also contributes nicely as Shylock, a money lender who seeks to finance the brothers' latest project, but is forbidden to do so by law.
Casey Nicholaw's direction and choreography are both delightful, and the show is mined for every nugget of comic gold. Scott Pask has crafted a Tudor-influenced scenic design in step with the era portrayed, and Gregg Barnes has created the costumes to match.
The brilliantly funny SOMETHING ROTTEN! continues through February 19, 2017 at The Fox Theatre.