Review: Something Rotten! (Broadway in Chicago)

| July 15, 2017

Something Rotten  cast at Broadway in Chicago (JD)            


Something Rotten! 
By Karey Kirkpatrick, Wayne Kirkpatrick
   and John O’Farrel
at Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph (map)
thru July 23  |  tix: $27-$98  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   


A gleeful hoot-and-a-half!


Rob McClure and Blake Hammond  star as Nick Bottom and Nostradamus in Something Rotten (JD)

Broadway in Chicago presents
Something Rotten!

Review by Catey Sullivan

The stuffed-unto-bursting cod pieces are a dead giveaway: They’re a relentlessly over-the-top, lowest-common-denominator visual gag on a par with fart jokes told by prepubescent boys who delight in all things puerile and aggressively stupid. Like the rest of Something Rotten!, the costume design is pretty dingitty dang dong hilarious.

Josh Grisetti and Rob McClure star as Nigel and Nick Bottom, Something Rotten (JM)As shows about Shakespeare go, this is as low-brow as one can go. With the Bard strutting about like the bastard cousin of an aging Backstreet Boy, Something Rotten! celebrates the ridiculous rather than the sublime. And in the tale Nigel and Nick Bottom – two lesser-known bards who long for the red-hot celebrity worship of The Bard – Something Rotten! is a gleeful, mindless hoot-and-a-half. There’s something to be said for a show that requires about as much thought as a dirty limerick. It is, after all, high summer.

Something Rotten! both celebrates and skewers musical theater, a genre that allows for lengthy, non-sequitur tap dances to pop up out of nowhere and that requires actors to express themselves in song when prose would do the job perfectly as well and in less time, thankyouverymuch. When Something Rotten‘s Nostradamus (not that Nostradamus. A distant relative thereof.) predicts the hit of the future will be a singing-dancing celebration of cats, nuns, Nazis, roof fiddlers, murderous uncles, dead kings and treacherous danish, any musical theater lover worth an eighth note will be busting a gut before the first chorus is over. Somebody really oughtta do “Omlette – The Musical,” if only to solve the enduring mystery of just why the f*ck McCavity is never here.

But I digress. Sort of. Something Rotten! is the work of Karey Kirkpatrick (music, book lyrics), Wayne Kirkpatrick (music and lyrics) and John O’Farrel (book). Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, the Equity national tour is a big, bright, utterly entertaining passel of silliness. Both satire and valentine to musical theater and the sublime talents of Shakespeare, Something Rotten! is also completely not stupid, despite the fact that it requires virtually no thought in order to enjoy it.

Broadway in Chicago's "Something Rotten!" by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, directed by Casey Nicholaw. (photo credit: Jeremy Daniel) Rob McClure and  Adam Pascal star as Nick Bottom and Shakespeare in Something Rotten (JD)Adam Pascal stars as Shakespeare in Something Rotten at Broadway in Chicago (JD) Rob McClure and Jeff Brooks star as Nick Bottom and Shylock in Something Rotten, Broadway Chicago (JD)Maggie Lakis and Rob McClure star as Bea and Nick Bottom in Something Rotten (JD) Autumn Hurlbert and Josh Grisetti star as Portia and Nigel in Something Rotten (JD)Something Rotten  cast at Broadway Chicago (JD)

The plot follows the Renaissance-era writing team of brothers Nicholas (Rob McClure) and Nigel Bottom (Josh Grisetti). Like almost every other character in the show, the Bottoms share a name with a famous Shakespearean character. Illustrious nomenclature notwithstanding, Bottoms are in a slump. While they struggle with funding and writers’ block, Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) is on fire, penning hit after hit, surrounded by hordes of squealing fans and wealthy patrons.

Nick comes up with a plan, paying the soothsayer Nostradamus (Blake Hammond) to peer into the future and divine Shakespeare’s greatest hit. Thus is “Omelette: The Musical!” born. Nigel Bottom, meanwhile, falls in love with Portia (Autumn Hurlbert), a bubbly blonde Puritan as giddy about poetry as a bobbysoxer screaming after Elvis. While Nick and Nigel get “Omelette” off the ground, Nick’s wife Bea (Maggie Lakis) disguises herself as a man and takes on a series of manly jobs (that mimic the adventures of girls-disguised-as-boys in Shakespeare’s plays.)

Nicholaw’s ensemble has razor-sharp comic timing – something that’s beyond crucial when the humor is this broad. When the jokes are wider than a barn door, the potential for show-crushing clunkers is all the greater. All the laughs land here, with nary a flop to be heard.

Rob McClure, Maggie Lakis and Josh Grisetti star in Something Rotten Broadway Chicago (JD)Scott Cote and Rob McClure star as Brother Jeremaih and Nick in Something Rotten

McClure is all energy and drive – his Nick is constantly stressed and equally determined to create a blockbuster, even if it means paying the family savings to a dubiously accurate soothsayer. Grisetti’s Nigel is a lovesick puppy equally besotted by poetry and Portia. Pascal’s Shakespeare is a scene-stealer, a 17th century rock star with the swagger of a Rolling Stone, and the petulant ego of a bad boy used to getting everything he wants without argument.

Hammond’s Nostradamus is as memorable as Shakespeare, bringing the house crashing down to its very foundation in the riotously hilarious “A Musical.” The number – which draws on everything from A Chorus Line to Rent – is inarguably one of the funniest showstoppers in musical theater.

Nicholaw’s choreographer is equally clever, with the dance referencing more iconic musical theater moments than you’ll can shake a jazz hand at. The production values are also first-rates, with Gregg Barnes’ costumes and Scott Pask’s set nicely replicating the gleeful cartoon-ish original.

As national tours go, Something Rotten! is something splendid. If you aren’t laughing five minutes in, you seriously need to lighten up.

Rating: ★★★½

Something Rotten! continues through July 23rd at Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph (map).  Tickets are $27-$98, and are available by phone (800-775-2000) or online through (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at time: 2 hours 40 minutes, includes an intermission)

Something Rotten  cast at Broadway in Chicago (JD)

Photos by Joan Marcus, Jeremy Daniel 




Rob McClure (Nick Bottom), Adam Pascal (Shakespeare), Josh Grisetti (Nigel Bottom), Maggie Lakis (Bea), Blake Hammond (Nostradamus), Autumn Hurlbert (Portia), Scott Cote (Brother Jeremiah, u/s Nick Bottom), Jeff Brooks (Shylock), Lucy Anders (ensemble, u/s Portia), Kyle Nicholas Anderson (ensemble, u/s Nigel Bottom), Daniel Beeman (ensemble, u/s Shakespeare), Nick Rashad Burroughs (Minstrel, ensemble), Pierce Cassedy (ensemble, u/s Nigel Bottom), Juliane Godfrey (ensemble, u/s Bea), Kristie Kerwin (ensemble, u/s Bea), Ralph Meitzler (ensemble, u/s Shakesepeare), Patrick John Moran (ensemble, u/s Nostradamus, Brother Jeremiah, Shylock), Joel Newsome (Lord Clapham, ensemble, u/s Nostradamus, Brother Jeremiah, Shylock), Con O’Shea-Creal (ensemble, u/s Nick Bottom), Mandie Black, Drew Franklin, Leah Hofmann, Kaylin Seckel, Tonya Thompson (ensemble), Kate Bailey, Ian Campayno, Eric Coles, Brandon Bieber (swings)


Brian P. Kennedy (conductor, keyboard 1), Eric Ebbenga (asst. conductor, keyboard 2), Cameron Rasmussen (guitar), Brad Flickinger (drums, percussion), Jim Gailloreto (reeds), Mark Olen (trumpet), Dan Johnson (trombone), Katherine Hughes (violin), Tom Logan (guitar 2), Larry Kohut (bass), Michael Duff (keyboard 3)

behind the scenes

Casey Nicholaw (director, choreographer), Phil Reno (music supervisor, vocal arrangements), Brian P. Kennedy (music director, conductor), Scott Pask (scenic design), Gregg Barnes (costume design), Jeff Croiter (lighting design), Peter Hylenski (sound design), Larry Hochman (orchestrations), Josh Marquette (hair design), Glen Kelly (music arranger), Jeff Norman (production stage manager), Matt Schreiber (stage manager), Brae Singleton (asst. stage manager), Steve Bebout (associate director), Eric Giancola (associate choreographer), Telsey + Company (casting), Jim Harrison (company manager), Port City Technical (production management), Allied Live (marketing, press), Work Light Productions (general management), Lucas McMahon (associate producer), John Miller (music coordinator), Emily Grishman (music copying, music preparation), Katharine Edmonds (music preparation), Tim Burke (local music coordinator), Brandon Bieber (dance captain), Mandie Black (asst. dance captain), Joan Marcus, Jeremy Daniel (photos)

Adam Pascal stars as Shakespeare in Something Rotten, Broadway in Chicago (JD)

Rob McClure stars as Nick Bottom in Something Rotten, Broadway Chicago (JD)

Adam Pascal stars as Shakespeare in Something Rotten, Broadway Chicago (JM)


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Category: 2017 Reviews, Broadway in Chicago, Catey Sullivan, Musical, National Tours, Oriental Theatre (Ford), Video, YouTube

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