SOMETHING ROTTEN is Fresh at Hershey Theatre

SOMETHING ROTTEN is Fresh at Hershey Theatre

Once upon a time, around 2015, there was a writer named William Shakespeare - oh, sorry, Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell. They had music and lyrics by Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick. And the Kirkpatrick boys had an idea about Shakespeare - or, more precisely, about the writers left in Shakespeare's wake. The idea became a Broadway musical that is possibly the most meta, or referential, of all musicals, and had such good humor that after not winning most or all of their ten Tony nominations, they celebrated with advertisements about being in the company of all the other great musicals that never won Best Musical.

SOMETHING ROTTEN! is pretty darn fresh, perhaps fresh to the point of insolence, all well-placed. Nick and Nigel, the Bottom Brothers, are a pair of actor/writers in the 1590s who can't best the former actor of their troupe, William Shakespeare, who keeps outwriting them. It doesn't help that Nick doesn't recognize a brilliant line when Nigel writes one, or that he's hired a psychic to predict what the future holds in theatre. His soothsayer, Thomas Nostradamus (he's just a relation of the famous one) sees that the future holds musicals - an idea whose time apparently has not yet come in the Elizabethan era. While Nick tries to invent a musical, his brother is creating fresh ideas that their former troupe mate is stealing. It hurts even more that Will is the rock icon of playwrights. Can Nick, steadfastly ignoring Nigel's advice and talent, create England's first musical? And could someone explain just what a musical is?

The national tour is currently at Hershey Theatre, where it's fresh as a daisy, skewering all future theatre in its wake from HAMLET to PIPPIN, from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF to A CHORUS LINE, and scrubbing ANNIE into the stage floor... quite literally. You don't have to love Shakespeare to love this musical, though there's no doubt you'll get even more laughs out of the show if you do. Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti, both in the show on Broadway, are the hapless Nick and Nigel, while Tony nominee Adam Pascal recreates his Broadway portrayal of the David Bowie version of William Shakespeare.

From the opening, where a Pippin ringmaster of a minstrel (Nick Rashad Burroughs) bids you "Welcome to the Renaissance," to Nostradamus (Blake Hammond) and Nick foreseeing "A Musical," to Shakespeare's world domination in "Will Power," and... oy, don't ask... "Making an Omelette," which is the undoubted show gut-buster, there is no moment when hilarity either isn't on stage or around the corner. It isn't fun for the whole family, though, as the Elizabethans were really a bit on the bawdy side, and the show lives up, or is it down, to every possible gag in the book. Hilarious subplots include Shakespeare running low on plot ideas and Nick's wife Bea (Maggie Lakis) deciding to find employment to feed the family. On the side, the local crop of London Puritans wants to stamp out immorality in theatre, and almost everything is immoral.

SOMETHING ROTTEN wasn't the best musical of 2015 according to the Tonys, but as the show's producers will remind you, WEST SIDE STORY and CHICAGO are right down there with them, and they're in good company - they're all great shows. You've just seen this one a little less often... possibly not at all yet... and you need to fix that quickly. Catch it at Hershey through the 28th, or you might just face a rotten tomato or two yourself. Visit for tickets and information.

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From This Author Marakay Rogers

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