BWW Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN! at the Fisher Theatre is Campy Musical Bliss and Pure Fun
Something Rotten! is anything but. With 10 Tony Award nominations under its codpiece, Something Rotten! is a campy spoof of Elizabethan proper meets 21st century satire with tongue-in-cheek nods to practically every musical to ever grace the Broadway stage. And it's oh-so brilliantly fun.
As the first show kicking off Broadway in Detroit's new season, Something Rotten!, now playing at the Fisher Theatre through October 7, is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw who also helmed The Book of Mormon (opening December 5 at the Fisher Theatre) and Aladdin (opening December 13 at the Detroit Opera House). Wayne Kirkpatrick, Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell are the brainchildren behind the incredibly clever music, lyrics and dialogue.
The brothers Kirkpatrick and O'Farrell take the audience back to ye ol' Renaissance days with a dapper Minstrel (Devin Holloway) and his mandolin welcoming you to an escapade of merriment. As this wildly mythical story unfolds, the writing duo of Nick Bottom (Matthew Michael Janisse) and his younger brother, Nigel (Richard Spitaletta), are in search of a theatrical hit for their optimistic band of misfit actors. Overshadowing their next production is William Shakespeare, aka The Bard (Matthew Baker), the envy of the entire town, especially the fledgling poet Nigel. In an act of desperation, Nick seeks out the town soothsayer (Greg Kalafatas) whose premonition is to write the first-ever musical, "Omelette," complete with life-sized tap-dancing eggs (one of the show's most hilarious numbers).
As the leather-clad egocentric Shakespeare, Baker, bearing an uncanny resemblance to David Bowie, exudes smarmy sexiness in his show-stopping numbers, "Will Power" and "Hard to Be the Bard." Janisse is the perfect complement to Baker as the earnest, determined Nick who will do whatever it takes to protect his family. While not as flashy a role as Shakespeare, Nick/Janisse seamlessly leads and enhances the show, especially with a stand-out ensemble playing multiple roles. Emily Kristen Morris is endearing as Nick's wife, Bea, and beautifully belts "Right Hand Man" with strong conviction. While it's hard to single out a favorite number, as all songs and scenes are true show-stoppers, Greg Kalafatas certainly deserves a standing ovation for his scene-stealing "A Musical" number that introduces Nick to the blueprint of creating a play backed by music and dance breaks.
This delightful piece of theatrical whimsy can be loved by the seasoned playgoer who will relish the treasure hunt of musical theatre references or by an audience newcomer looking for a refreshing diversion and festive night out. Packed with endless parody, Something Rotten! is a show that should be on your repeat attendance list just to catch the overt, slick and keen shout-outs to Broadway.
The creative team of Something Rotten! has cooked up the perfect recipe for a show that appeals to all ages and all levels of theatre audiences. Doth needn't protest too much about seeing it because there's nothing scrambled about this not-to-be-missed musical adventure.
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Photo Credit: Matthew Michael Janisse and Greg Kalafatas star in Something Rotten! now playing at the Fisher Theatre through Oct. 7.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel