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Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN! National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center

Set in the year 1595, Something Rotten! is a completely original musical comedy that follows Nick & Nigel Bottom, two playwriting brothers who struggle to find success in the theatre as they compete with the wild popularity of their contemporary, William Shakespeare. As a way of competing, they both decided to create the world's first musical.

The musical was originally suppose to have its out-of-town tryout in Seattle, Washington, but was decided to instead open cold in New York based on the reception it received during workshops. The Broadway production opened on April 22nd, 2015, where it earned 10 Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical), and recently concluded its run on January 1st, 2017 after 742 performances.

The current national touring production playing at the Durham Performing Arts Center through April 9th is nothing rotten (pun intended), it is instead a great musical created by real-life brothers, Wayne & Karey Kirkpatrick along with John O'Farrell that's not only tons of fun, but also has lots of heart. Something Rotten! is also filled with outrageous humor, showstopping musical numbers (very skillfully staged by director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw), references to Shakespeare plays and musicals (I urge you all to keep track of them), scenery designed by Scott Pask that's very reminiscent of the Shakespearean era, colorful lighting designed by Jeff Croiter, costumes very creatively designed by Gregg Barnes, and a very energetic cast.

Rob McClure is such a joy to watch on stage as the main character of Nick Bottom, a down on his luck desperate playwright looking for a success in the theatre. He even gets to show off his skills as a real triple threat. He also shares some great onstage chemistry with his real-life wife, Maggie Lakis, who plays his wife in the show, Bea and Josh Grisetti as his younger brother, Nigel. Grisetti's character also gets involved in a Romeo & Juliet level of forbidden romance with Portia, played by the ever-adorable Autumn Hurlbert. The two standouts of this entire ensemble are Adam Pascal, who gives an excellent rockstar portrayal of Shakespeare, and Blake Hammond as soothsayer, Nostradamus, who leads a big production number in the middle of Act I that literally stops the show, even reminding everyone that there's nothing as amazing as a musical.

This is a musical that I think is going to be very popular with schools, community, and regional theatres as soon as it becomes available for licensing. It's almost impossible to not get into this show as it should leave audiences with a very enthusiastic response from beginning to end.

For more information regarding the tour, please visit:

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