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BWW Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN Brings 'bright lights, stage fights, and a dazzling chorus' to Dr. Phillips Center For The Performing Arts

BWW Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN Brings 'bright lights, stage fights, and a dazzling chorus' to Dr. Phillips Center For The Performing Arts
Rob McClure, left, Maggie Lakis and Josh Grisetti. (Jeremy Daniel)

Nipping at the heels of the wildly outrageous, yet hilarious, comedies such as "The Book of Mormon" and "Spamalot," this national tour cast of "Something Rotten" serves up a fun take on musicals at the turn of the century-the 17th century, that is.

Set in 1595 during the peak years of The Bard (the rockstar playwright that is William Shakespeare), the raucous comedy follows Nick and Nigel Bottom through their struggle to come up with the next big hit in theater. Nick (Rob McClure) is our main misguided and struggling playwright who serves as caretaker to his innocent younger brother Nigel (Josh Grisetti). However, while Grisetti does an excellent job of bringing about the innocence and naïveté of his character, he doesn't quite capture the awkwardness that Nigel is meant to exude. His grace and ability to perform on stage-while effortless-caused for the reigns to be pulled back on Nigel's status as a social outcast. McClure, on the other hand, does an excellent job of conveying the struggles that his character endures (displayed immediately through his animated opening number in "God, I Hate Shakespeare"), while also balancing his flaws with enough heart to make him wholly relatable and lovable.

Bea (Maggie Lakis), is the progressive and business-focused "right-hand woman" to her husband Nick throughout their trials and his consistently flailing business ventures. Through her continuous efforts, Bea manages to keep the Bottom Brothers in line and out of trouble the best she can. Her strong-willed perseverance throughout the Bottom's hardships is an interesting and striking contrast to Nigel's first love-Portia, the poetry-loving Puritan (Autumn Hurlbert). Hurlbert is wonderful in the role as she brings a sweet and endearing charm to the stage through her young character's outlook on life and love. Her quirky duets with Grisetti manage to soar with an ere of grace-how they manage to do both simultaneously is a wonder.

The loudest cheers (both on and off-stage) occurred when the beloved William Shakespeare appeared for the first time. Portrayed by Adam Pascal (who is perhaps best known for his role in "Rent"), Shakespeare serves as the primary opposition to the Bottom Brothers and is Nick's own personal archenemy.

Throughout the show, Pascal does a brilliant job of bringing out the swagger and powerful presence that his character's reputation has held for more than 400 years. He brazenly embraces the arrogance of Shakespeare and the bold theories as to how he received the idea for one of the greatest plays of all time, "Hamlet". His solo numbers capture the attention of the audience with ease-however, a slight delay in his mic during the first twenty or so seconds of "Hard To Be The Bard" left everyone a little dazed and confused over the technical difficulty.

But the ultimate comedic presence on-stage came in the form of Thomas Nostradamus (Blake Hammond), the nephew of the famous soothsayer Nostradamus. It's his journey from the city streets of the town into his visions of the future of theater that transports Nick and the audience through some of the most iconic musicals ever to grace the stage. These grand, dazzling nods to some of the greats help keep the comedic tempo flowing throughout the entirety of the show-and leaves the audience roaring with laughter time and time again.

"Something Rotten!" is overflowing with more than its fair share of innuendos, played off with a wink and a nod, but the show never feels as though it's crossing the line with raunchy humor. Toeing the line? Absolutely.

The production overall is a fun journey into the past and the conjured conception of what we know today as the "musical". While "Something Rotten" may not leave the lasting impact of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," it's still refreshing (and impressive) to see a musical poke fun at its own existence-and in a form true to its storyline, the show will leave you humming the tune to "A Musical" well after you've left the theater.

'Something Rotten!'

Where: Dr. Phillips Center, 445 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando

When: 8 p.m. through Friday, April 27; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 28; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 29

Cost: $34.25 and up

Call: 844-513-2014


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From This Author McKenzie Lakey