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Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN at Greenville Theatre is Big, Bright, and Brilliant

Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN at Greenville Theatre is Big, Bright, and Brilliant

Engagingly hilarious musical comedy runs through September 25

Ah, the 90's, when so many things were ripe for reinvention. New clothes, new music, new writers, new ways of spreading ideas.

Yes indeed, the 1590's were a glorious time. Welcome to the Renaissance!

That's the setting of SOMETHING ROTTEN, the hilarious musical now playing at Greenville Theatre. With stellar direction by Michael Kostroff, beautifully executed vocals under music director Victoria Bess Adams, and dynamite choreography by Elyn Collier, SOMETHING ROTTEN is big, bright, funny, and bold - and a perfect fit on Greenville Theatre's large mainstage.

The show follows the travails of the Bottom brothers - boisterous leader Nick (Andrew Anderson), and sensitive poet Nigel (Carter Allen) - who create their own theatrical entertainments with a small group of regular actors. Their biggest rival is a former member of their troupe who has since become essentially a Renaissance rock star: William Shakespeare (Liam Brenzel).

Nick is obsessed with artistically topping Shakespeare, ultimately enlisting the aid of a soothsayer named Nostradamus (Rod McClendon) to look into the future for clues to the next big thing. And that leads into one of the all-time great musical production numbers, which is itself both a tribute to and a spoof of just about every musical that's ever been written. And that, my friends, is just the beginning. The laughter and fun only accelerate from there. SOMETHING ROTTEN rewards musical theatre - and Shakespeare - buffs, but is broad, silly, tuneful, and entertaining enough to delight all audiences. Think you hate musicals? Guess what, you'll find a lot to love here. This is a show that makes fun of musicals in the same breath that it demonstrates the beauty of the form.

The cast is uniformly excellent, working with energy and precision to bring the show to vivid life. Andrew Anderson brings a boisterous comic intensity to Nick Bottom, always moving, always leading the way - even when it's a path to his own undoing. Anderson also nails Nick's many songs, clearly rattling off the barrage of words with his strong, confident voice. Balancing Anderson's commanding performance is Carter Allen as Nigel, the quieter, more contemplative Bottom brother. There's a popular aphorism that "acting is reacting," and Allen is gifted at exactly that, taking in the absurdity around him and conveying his character's mental and physical reactions.

Samantha Eyler also excels as Nick's long-suffering wife, Bea. From her fun introductory number ("Right Hand Man") to the many ways she literally supports Nick, Eyler makes the role her own. Siri Howard also makes a strong impression as Portia, a woman who falls for Nigel's poetic soul. Howard has an astonishingly beautiful voice that's simply perfect for the role, as well as great comic timing and a willingness to go wherever the character needs.

Liam Brenzel's Shakespeare is the very embodiment of a 16th century rock god, with the looks and swagger to pull off the part. Neel Patrick Edwards brings his usual gusto to the role of Portia's father, and Jonathan Kilpatrick scores numerous laughs with his shrieking, hysterical Lord Clapham. The rest of the ensemble, often playing multiple roles, are just as good, with numerous standouts, including Evan Harris (especially terrific as Shylock), Javy Pagan (who commands the opening of both act one and act two with his gorgeous voice and avuncular presence as a minstrel guiding us into the show), and Riley Fincher-Foster, who demonstrated excellent dance skills as well as solid comic chops in a couple of different roles, as well as earning laughs and generous applause in her brief, hilarious appearance as Cupid (yes, Cupid - you have really got to see this show).

Last, but definitely not least, is Rod McClendon, whose appearance as Nostradamus is not only a highlight of the show but also a highlight of his career. McClendon can always be counted on to bring a solid comic performance, but in SOMETHING ROTTEN he goes above and beyond, with his singing and comic skills absolutely at their peak. He is an absolute delight.

Everything about this show is just top notch, from the costumes of Thomas Brooks, to Jenni Baldwin's sets, to Cory Granner's sound and light design. Director Michael Kostroff put together a fantastic team and keeps everything moving at just the right pace. The singing is terrific and Elyn Collier's choreography is tightly executed, all to great effect. SOMETHING ROTTEN kicks off Greenville Theatre's 2022-23 season on a very high note indeed.


SOMETHING ROTTEN runs September 9 - 25, 2022 at Greenville Theatre. For tickets and showtimes, call the box office at 864.233.6238 or visit GreenvilleTheatre.org.



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Review: SOMETHING ROTTEN at Greenville Theatre is Big, Bright, and BrilliantReview: SOMETHING ROTTEN at Greenville Theatre is Big, Bright, and Brilliant
September 12, 2022

What did our critic think of SOMETHING ROTTEN at Greenville Theatre? Ah, the 90's, when so many things were ripe for reinvention. New clothes, new music, new writers, new ways of spreading ideas.