Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN at Falmouth Theatre Guild

An hilarious view of The Bard as you've never seen him

By: May. 08, 2023
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Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN at Falmouth Theatre Guild

If you're like me, you've steered clear of NYC and Broadway since the beginning of the pandemic. (While it's a wonderful place to latch onto a little culture, you're apt to pick up an errant virus or two along with your Sondheim.) Well here's manna from Heaven for all lovers of Broadway and great theater. The Falmouth Theatre Guild's current production of "Something Rotten" is so full of unforgettable characters, expertly delivered one-liners, melodic and sometimes soaring musical numbers, energetic ensemble dance numbers and just plain fun that it's like a trip to Broadway without the mind-numbing traffic. I promise you will regret missing it.

A Riotous Look at the Elizabethan era

In case you've ever wondered what the Renaissance/Elizabethan era was all about, here's your answer. Your tour guides through the strange region are brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom. (Get it? Nick Bottom, like Shakespeare's character in "A Midsummer Night's Dream.") Played by Alex Valentine and Drew Frayre respectively, the two less-than-successful playwrights are sick of moldering away in the massive shadow of the Bard and determined to do something about it. That's the deceptively simple plot. But in fact, the show is full of twists and turns that would have made the Bard proud.

A minstrel (Cathy Lemay) opens the show weaving down the theater aisle singing "Welcome to the Renaissance." Then the stage fills with the ensemble dressed in Elizabethan garb and dancing energetically, with a little rock music thrown in at the end of the number...just for good measure. The next number, "I Hate Shakespeare," tells the whole story. At the front of the troupe is Valentine, whose voice offers a clear and resonant sample of what's to come. As far as Nick is concerned, the Bard is "just a pompous little man who fakes humility when all he does is gloat." (Annoyingly, their rival's "Romeo and Juliet" happens to be the toast of London.)

Determined to outdo Queen Elizabeth's favorite, the two brothers bat around ideas, including "something really new, a flush toilet." Stumped for an idea that will beat Shakespeare (Kiernon McDermott) at his own game and tired of being a starving (literally) artist, Nick consults Thomas Nostradamus (the nephew of the great soothsayer) for an idea that will save them. Played hilariously by Peter Cook, the prognosticator comes onstage in a puff of colored smoke and is dressed in rags, letting the playwright know the next big thing will be a musical. And that's the cue for the number "It's a Musical," with the ensemble coming onstage in modern dance garb and forming a high-kicking line at the end. (It's almost impossible to say enough about the fun and fabulous dance numbers, thanks to the joint efforts of choreographer Heather Shepley and dance captain Crissy Condon.) Throughout the song there are references to just about every classic musical in existence, with those fun tidbits also peppering a reprise of the number later in the show. Lines like "we've got trouble" and "luck be a lady tonight" keep the audience laughing. Then there's the line "How do you solve a problem like Ophelia?"

And what's the topic of the new show to be? Well, Nick notes that the most significant thing that's happened in the last 1,000 years is the Black Death. And that, of course, is the lead into the musical number-another audience-pleasing ensemble piece, "The Black Death." We all know where a musical about the plague will leave the two starving siblings. So Nostradamus consults the spirits of show biz again and informs the duo that the greatest of all time will be about a ham omelette, of course a play on the masterpiece about the Bard's Danish ("not the dessert") prince. And this is the perfect lead-in to the numbers "It's Eggs" and "Make an Omelette."

A Touch of Broadway

Singling out highlights of the show is another nearly impossible task. All the characters are spot-on and their delivery of the side-splitting one-liners is universally flawless. For example, Jodi Edwards as Nick's wife Bea is a delightfully high-spirited Elizabethan matron, with her flowing red hair and tight-fitting bodice. A feminist centuries before her time, she comments that the success of the virgin queen Elizabeth proves that, "By the year 1600 women are going to be completely equal to men." And her singing voice is as strong and sure as her character portrayal. (Vocal director is Lynne Marshall and music director Michael Dunford.)

Then there's Will Shakespeare himself. McDermott plays him as an arrogant, slightly effeminate rock star packed in tight leather pants. In the number "It's Hard to be the Bard," the ensemble surrounds him like a bunch of groupies, waving candles like fans at a modern-day rock concert.

And let's not forget Jakob White, who plays Shylock with a delightful Brooklyn accent when he utters lines like, "Shakespeare has promised to make me a really nice Jew in his next show."

Don't Miss It

As noted above, this is a must for anyone who truly appreciates a great night of musical theater. And the set, thanks to the work of set designer Bruce Allen and his crew is fun and colorful. (Who knew the streets of 16-century London were so brightly hued?)

Theater historians have theorized for centuries that some of Shakespeare's works were produced by other playwrights. Now we know who those playwrights were. (Just kidding!)

If you go: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Sundays 2 p.m. through May 14. Falmouth Theatre Guild, 58 Highfield Drive, Falmouth, 508-548-0400,, tickets: $30 adults, $28 seniors, $25 under 18.


BODY WORLDS: The Anatomy Of Happiness Will Make its North American Debut in July Photo
BODY WORLDS: The Anatomy Of Happiness Will Make its North American Debut in July

BODY WORLDS: The Anatomy of Happiness tells the story of the human body and the influence that the emotional phenomenon of 'happiness' has on our health. The legendary BODY WORLDS exhibit seen by more than 54 million people globally presents this brand new exhibition for the first time ever in North America at “The Back Bay Hub” on Newbury Street beginning Friday, July 7, 2023 for a limited engagement. 

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James Hunter Six Comes to City Winery Boston This Month

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Brian Falduto Will Headline Pride Show at City Winery Next Week Photo
Brian Falduto Will Headline Pride Show at City Winery Next Week

On June 12th at City Winery, 'School of Rock' alum turned emerging queer country star Brian Falduto will headline 'Brian Falduto: The NY Pride Show' with special guests Will Leet and the NYC Cowboys and hosted by Hanukah Lewinsky, live at 7:30 PM.

Americana Theatre Company Presents BIG FISH, July 14- 30 Photo
Americana Theatre Company Presents BIG FISH, July 14- 30

Americana Theatre Company (ATC), Plymouth's professional theatre company, presents the endearing, captivating musical  “Big Fish,” on select dates from July 14 through 30, at Spire Center for Performing Arts, 25 ½ Court Street, Plymouth.  Performances are held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 pm, with 2 pm matinees on Sundays. “Big Fish” book is by John August, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and written by John August's Columbia Motion Picture.

From This Author - Sue Mellen

Sue Mellen began her writing career as an arts, entertainment and features writer for the Cape Cod Times. She next went on to work in public relations, first for a regional healthcare system, then for... (read more about this author)


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