Review: Smart, Silly, Spectacular, SOMETHING ROTTEN! Proves a Dazzling MSMT Main Stage Finale

Zany Antics, Stunning Choreography, and Showstopping Production Numbers Bring Down House

By: Aug. 11, 2023
Review: Smart, Silly, Spectacular, SOMETHING ROTTEN! Proves a Dazzling MSMT Main Stage Finale

Dancing omelettes, a zany soothsayer, THE Bard of English theatre, and a ragtag troupe of Renaissance actors struggling to survive all share the Maine State Music Theatre stage in dizzying profusion in the final main stage production of the season: SOMETHING ROTTEN! - an outrageously funny, simultaneously urbane and plebeian send up and homage to classical theatre and that unique genre the MUSICAL.

The stylish and brilliant co-production with Lancaster’s Fulton Theatre, directed by Marc Robin, creates an entirely new imaginary universe, a world at the intersection of Elizabethan England and modern American musical theatre – part Renaissance Faire (on steroids), part Monty Python at their most hilarious. The evening, which is filled with endearing characters, showstopping song and dance numbers, comedy fueled by allusions, puns, slapstick, scatological jokes, and occasionally even poetry, is pure entertainment. No one will need to “brush up his Shakespeare” or be able to “name that tune” in order to come away from SOMETHING ROTTEN! thoroughly exhilarated and brimming with joy.

Review: Smart, Silly, Spectacular, SOMETHING ROTTEN! Proves a Dazzling MSMT Main Stage Finale
Jordan De Leon & Tyler Hanes

Written by the brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, SOMETHING ROTTEN! proved to be the surprise hit of the 2015 Broadway season nominated for ten Tonys, and it is, without a doubt, the perfect production to cap off MSMT’s 2023 season, offering audiences an irresistible feast for the eyes and ears and a comic concoction of special sophistication and charm.

Robin directs and choreographs with impish glee. He lands the jokes both broad and subtle, and he delves into the substance and heart of the story. His choreography is quite simply dazzling with “A Musical” being one of those showstopping, unforgettable theatre moments that offers a kaleidoscope of styles, and the wide array of tap throughout the show is reminiscent of Golden Era musicals. 

Music Director Ben McNaboe (Erik Wakar, Assistant Music Director) leads the eight-piece orchestra in a sparkling performance that is tuneful and upbeat.

The visual production is appropriately scaled to reflect the Elizabethan theme of the play - an era when there was little scenery or technical wizardry and actors did the heavy lifting. Charles S. Kading’s décor has a two-dimensional storybook feeling to it, with faux Tudor buildings painted in bold, saturated hues and the occasional projection to change the scene. Paul Black’s lighting completes the picture with complementary color schemes. Kevin Koski’s costumes (Kevin S Foster II/wigs) exaggerate the elements of Elizabethan dress just enough to make them witty and fun.  Shakespeare’s black leather outfit, laced with gold and topped with a large Elizabethan collar, is especially fanciful and eye-catching. And he creates a parade of clever signature outfits from the American musical canon for numbers like “Make an Omelette” and “Welcome to America.” Shannon Slaton delivers the efficient sound design, while Tim Markus serves as the capable Production Stage Manager.

Review: Smart, Silly, Spectacular, SOMETHING ROTTEN! Proves a Dazzling MSMT Main Stage Finale
Bryant Martin, Blake Hammond & Ensemble

The cast coalesces into an ebullient ensemble. Tyler Hanes is an absolute delight as an irreverent, outrageous, sexy, over-the-top Will Shakespeare who is given the opportunity to show off his stunning dance credentials. He shines in numbers like “Will Power”, and “Hard To Be the Bard” in which he has an hilarious Freudian meltdown.  As Nostradamus, Blake Hammond is irresistibly wacky and wonderful.  He is an energetic song and dance man and a comedian with impeccable timing and a delightful air of insouciance.  “A Musical” is his moment to shine, and he pulls out all the stops.

As Nick Bottom, Bryant Martin makes a sympathetic and strong foil, credible as a veteran actor of the Elizabethan stage with incisive diction and a compelling stage presence. His strong, velvety baritone is impressive in all his vocal numbers, from the rousing “Bottom’s Going To Be Top” to the tender “To Thine Own Self Be True,” and he anchors the show with plenty of panache and heart.

Jordan De Leon contrasts nicely as his sweet, shy, poetic, brother, Nigel, and his courtship of Portia, and his solo and duet with Nick, “To Thine Own Self Be True,” are truly touching

Lucy Godinez is a brassy, sassy, warmhearted Bea, the proto-feminist, wife of Nick Bottom, who proves to be his strongest supporter and biggest fan. She uses her powerful voice to belt out numbers like “Right Hand Man” and romps gleefully through the series of male disguises her character wears throughout the evening. Once again, demonstrating her versatility, Carolyn Anne Miller returns to play Portia, the naïve, poetry-loving Puritan girl, who proves to have a reservoir of determination and rebellion in her heart. She lends her lovely voice to “I Love the Way” and her  brassy reserves of energy to “We See the Light.”

Kevin Earley delivers a spot-on satiric turn as the repressed Brother Jeremiah, while David Girolmo creates an amusing and compassionate portrait of Shylock. Stephane Duret serves as the engaging narrator, his Minstrel opening and closing the first and second acts with lively charm. Michael Di Liberto limns a deliciously fey and pretentious patron, Lord Clapham.

The remainder of the ensemble – Alicia Babin, Kelly Bolick (Dance Captain), David Buergler, Hannah Hubbard, Stephanie Maloney, Mateo Melendez, Dennis O’Bannion, Michael Olaribigbe, J.P. Qualters, and Eric Rivas, and Swing Joshua Bellamy - takes on a variety of roles as members of the acting troupe or Elizabethan theatre-goers with relish.  

In that showstopper of a number, “A Musical,” Nostradamus shares his vision of a revolutionary new stage genre:  It’s entertaining, filled with song and dance, sweet romance, and happy endings. It leaves the audience cheering on its feet.  As the prophet presciently says, “They love it! And what's not to love?  What could be more amazing than a musical?”  MSMT’s SOMETHING ROTTEN! is that musical  – It’s something smart, something silly, something that sparkles with talent, and something truly spectacular.  


Photos courtesy of MSMT, Jared Morneau, photographer

SOMETHING ROTTEN! runs from August 9-26, 2023, at MSMT’s Pickard Theater,

1 Bath Rd., Brunswick  207-725-8769





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