BWW Review: Previously Promised SOMETHING ROTTEN! Finally Comes to 5th Ave - Worth the Wait?
Let's set the Way Back Machine to the 2014/2015 season where the 5th Avenue Theatre touted the pre-Broadway tryout of a new musical comedy called "Something Rotten!". Many musical theater geeks, myself included, were quite excited at the premise of this new tuner but then the theater Gods frowned upon us and smiled on them as they announced they would go right to Broadway. The show had a respectable run on Broadway despite getting a few tepid reviews from The New York critics but now it's back and the question remains, did we miss out and was the show worth the wait? Well I can say that the show is incredibly stupid and silly, filled with crass and bawdy humor and more musical theater references than you can shake a jazz hand at. But above all, it's FUN! If you're looking for some deep meaning then, by all means look elsewhere but if you want to laugh and don't mind repeated phallic jokes then this could be right up your alley.
In this raucous tale it's London, 1595 and welcome to the Renaissance where the darling of all things theatrical is, of course, William Shakespeare (Adam Pascal), much to the chagrin of Nick and Nigel Bottom (Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti) who can't seem to get one of their shows produced as everyone just wants the latest from The Bard. In an act of desperation Nick seeks out a soothsayer to tell him what the next big thing theatrically might be and comes upon the mysterious and somewhat crazy Nostradamus (Blake Hammond). (No, not that Nostradamus.) He explains to Nick, in one of the show's outrageous production numbers and one that is worth the price of admission, that the next big thing is called a "musical" where people burst into song for no reason. Furthermore, Nick gets him to tell him what Shakespeare's greatest play would be so he can beat him to the punch and the somewhat hazy Nostradamus says it's a show called "Omelette". So, Nick and Nigel set off to wow London with "Omelette, The Musical".
As I said, the show is a rowdy thrill ride filled with belly laughs and insanely fun production numbers. The problem is, that big "It's a Musical" one I told you about that brings down the house, it's near the beginning of Act One so the show kind of feels like it never really reaches that level again especially in Act Two. That's not to say there's no more fun to be had after that, not by a long shot, but when you have that big of a high at the beginning of a show then the rest of the show can feel like a struggle to get back there which they never really do.
But it's a minor qualm in a fun show with a cast that looks to be having the time of their lives. McClure is hilarious as the writer about to explode if one more person mentions how great Shakespeare is and manages a wonderfully funny straight man as does his counter point straight man Grisetti as his dreamer of a brother who just wants to stay true to his art and find love. Speaking of love, the ladies in this show can come across a bit as props but luckily Maggie Lakis as Nick's force of nature wife Bea and Autumn Hurlbert as Nigel's would be Puritan girlfriend Portia are up to the task of taking these women and making them shine. Pascal takes on the rock star persona of Shakespeare and runs with it. Actually, I saw him do the role on Broadway and I think he's settled more into it and is much funnier now. Hammond is hysterical as the just off-center soothsayer and his repeated interjections are comedy gold. And I must mention the adorably fun Scott Cote as Portia's father and the Puritan leader Brother Jeremiah who's every little swish, sashay and head flip feeds beautifully into a blissful take of a holy man itching to get on his knees ... and pray.
Just a fantastic good time and that's all you really need these days. Get to the 5th, turn off your brain and turn on your smile, you're gonna love "Something Rotten!". And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give "Something Rotten!" at the 5th Avenue Theatre a guffawing YAY. And on a personal note, to the chorus boy who caught me sitting in traffic on 5th Ave on my way to the show listening to the cast album, yes, I was prepping for the show. But you all surpassed anything on an album!
"Something Rotten!" performs at the 5th Avenue Theatre through October 1st. For tickets or information contact the 5th Avenue Theatre box office at 206-625-1900 or visit them online at www.5thavenue.org.