The hilariously witty musical comedy “Something Rotten!,” nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2015 including Best Musical, is playing through Sunday, March 25 at the Schuster Center.
A clever and naughty sendup of William Shakespeare and musical theater conventions, the show charmingly centers on brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, aspiring writers in 1595 London in desperate need of a hit. Their rival, the Bard, is treated as a rock star, but they feel confident in surpassing his greatness with the creation of the world’s very first musical. It is part of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series.
Here are five reasons why you should see this entertaining romp.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE SHAKESPEARE
In fact, Nick’s first solo is the comical “God, I Hate Shakespeare,” a laundry list of reasons why the Bard, a former actor in his troupe, just isn’t his cup of tea. Although effectively accented with an assortment of playful homages to “Henry IV,” “Twelfth Night,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and, most importantly, “Hamlet,” this breezy show is more of a love letter to the Renaissance, Broadway, musical theater, romance, and the universal bond of marriage and family. “We’re well aware the audience is going to come to this show not really sure of what they’re going to get,” said Maggie Lakis, who portrays Nick’s supportive wife Bea and offers a solid rendition of “Right Hand Man.” “‘Something Rotten!’ is a new show so it’s not a revival which is more commonly seen on tours these days. But it has great production numbers and it’s been wonderful hearing the audience experience the show for the first time because there are so many great surprises in it. And actually, it’s very rewarding to do a comedy right now considering everything that’s going on in the world.”
CAST LED BY BROADWAY PRINCIPALS
In a rare turn of events, the tour’s three principal leads closed the show on Broadway in early 2017. Tony nominees Rob McClure (Nick Bottom) and “Rent” alum Adam Pascal (Shakespeare) along with Josh Grisetti (Nigel Bottom) offer wonderfully cohesive chemistry befitting their time with this material. The verbal tap dance showdown between McClure and Pascal in the gospel-driven Act 1 finale “Bottom’s Gonna Be on Top” is a hoot.
Director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw is familiar to Dayton audiences thanks to his memorable work on “The Book of Mormon.” His contributions are equally inventive here particularly his knack for gradually building ensemble numbers to the fullest while inserting funny imagery where necessary including a few Grim Reapers during “The Black Death” and tap-dancing eggs in “Make an Omelette,” a key scene in Nick and Nigel’s musical.
Brothers Wayne Kirkpatrick (Grammy-winning co-songwriter of Eric Clapton’s “Change Your World”) and Karey Kirkpatrick (Golden Globe-nominated screenwriter of animated film “Chicken Run”) deliver an impressive array of tuneful melodies from the snazzy pop elegance of opening number “Welcome to the Renaissance” to the rock urgency of “Will Power” (delivered with flair by Pascal with moves like Jagger assisted by four brooding backup boys portrayed by Daniel Beeman, Drew Franklin, Luke Hamilton, and Tony Neidenbach). “We were conscious of not wanting to be so inside that you could only get it if you had seen the most obscure musicals,” Wayne Kirkpatrick said. “We went broad, purposefully. We referenced not only the musicals people would know even if they hadn’t seen them, or maybe they’d only seen the movie. The same with Shakespeare. Everybody knows some Shakespeare lines. There are a lot of what we refer to as ‘hits,’ that everybody is going to know.”
The Kirkpatricks and Nicholaw truly pulled out the stops when creating/envisioning Act 1’s “A Musical” and Act 2’s aforementioned “Make an Omelette.” The former, brought about by Nick’s visit to see faulty soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus (kooky Blake Hammond), ingeniously and joyfully references an array of musicals from “Annie” and “South Pacific” to “Les Misérables” and “A Chorus Line” with a nod to the Radio City Rockettes for good measure. Both are must-see showcases worth the price of admission.
“These two numbers sometimes receive mid-show standing ovations,” said Lakis, McClure’s wife on stage and off. “This show simply has everything you’d want from a musical comedy from great music to great costumes to great laughs.”
WANT TO GO?
What: “Something Rotten!”
Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton
When: Through March 25; 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $35 and up.
Tickets/more info: Call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.com