BWW Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN!, Stars, Understudies and Lessons From Three Viewings

BWW Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN!, Stars, Understudies and Lessons From Three Viewings

SOMETHING ROTTEN! is closing at Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre tonight so a review is not going to bring more of you to the show here (it was not needed - the house was quite full!), so instead of just reviewing the show, this is more of a riff on lessons learned from my three viewings of this hit Broadway show.

I was fortunate enough to first see this amazing show on Broadway in January 2017 with Christian Borle playing William Shakespeare. From my perch in the upper rows at the St. James, far, far from the stage, I could FEEL the magnetism and sex appeal of Borle's Will oozing from the stage. The Tony Award winning performance was all that you could ask for. I may have swooned a little. Oh yes, that just happened.* He was definitely the Will of the people.

Flash forward to April 2018 and anxiously awaiting the national tour lead by Adam Pascal and Rob McClure at Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre. My companion and I got inside and the show began... and I had not seen the notice that neither were there for the opening night show April 3. However, Scott Cote (Nick Bottom) and Daniel Beeman (Will Shakespeare) stepped in for the leads that night and blew the audience away. The show was every bit as entertaining, every bit as fun and well performed as you would expect. Understudies? Who cares? They were great! Still, I had a nagging feeling I needed to see Pascal and McClure play these roles and that I'd missed out.

The week progressed and by the weekend I knew I needed to go back. Convincing my husband to go was not hard and we snagged balcony seats that rivaled my NYC perch for extreme distance from the stage but I didn't mind -- I was ready for the star power of the leads this time.

And Pascal's Will was excellent -- but different! As was McClure's Nick. They were just as entertaining and the show blew away the audience again. It's just that good. The show's premise is simple: a pair of brothers/writers in Renaissance London are competing to get their shows produced and seen against the celebrity of the moment, rock-star Shakespeare. Older brother Nick pays a soothsayer to learn what'll be the next big thing in theatre: the musical. Having trouble with a story, Nick also finds out what Shakespeare's biggest win will be and he sets out to write it first, but that goes as well as you might expect.

In the meantime, the soothsayer Nostradamus (not that one, but his nephew, Thomas, played brilliantly by Blake Hammond), continues giving tips on every possible future musical hit and nearly all of the musical theatre canon ends up in the Bottom Brothers' show. It's a fabulous tribute to all things musical theatre. The song, "A Musical," (I cannot say that without mentally doing the hand motion) had us audience members rolling as Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick's music and lyrics managed to nail putting together all the disparate pieces from numerous shows over that many years into one enthralling whole.

Back to the leads. Pascal was more boisterous and a bit spazzy as he sang "Will Power" and "It's Hard to be the Bard." He had heaps of attitude and the adoration had clearly gone straight to this Will's head. Beeman's Will was somewhere between this and Borle's all-out charisma; he knew he was The Bard but he earned it with his hips and bare chested dance moves.

McClure's Nick was feistier and a bit more angry than Cote's Nick, who seemed a bit more exasperated. Both sold "God I Hate Shakespeare" and their big show within a show number, "Make an Omelette."

Lesson learned for this theatre-goer. No matter who is playing the leads, a well written and produced show will go on -- and the audiences in Minneapolis will still clap just as long after a big "A Musical" number and still burst into spontaneous standing ovation at the end.

SOMETHING ROTTEN's ensemble was a tapping treat with numerous dance breaks that showed off these hoofers' abilities. "Welcome to the Renaissance," and "We See the Light," were big, brassy Broadway numbers. This cast works hard and gives a great show across the boards. See what I did there?*

*Jokes that you'll hopefully get if you saw this show.

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Photo: Adam Pascal and the cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour; Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

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From This Author Kristen Hirsch Montag

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