Currently onstage at TPAC‘s Jackson Hall through Sunday, July 2, 10-time Tony-nominated Something Rotten tells the tale of two quill-equipt fictional brothers, Nick and Nigel Bottom (Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti) whose jealousy of some playwright named Will Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) prompt them to consult a fortune teller and devise a plan to take The Bard’s next great theatrical success and one-up him by creating the world’s first musical. Interestingly, all three of the above-mentioned actors are reprising their Broadway roles, seamlessly transitioning from the Broadway production which closed on January 1, 2017, to the first national touring company which began previews just nine days later.
Much like the on-stage collaborating siblings, Something Rotten is also the product of brotherly teamwork with music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick (a successful and well-known Nashville songwriter who’s penned tunes for everyone from Faith Hill and Garth Brooks to Bonnie Raitt and Joe Cocker) and his brother Karey Kirkpatrick ( an Los Angeles-based screenwriter whose credits include everything from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and James and the Giant Peach to Chicken Run and Rescuers Down Under). The latter also co-wrote the book of the musical alongside British-born author and screenwriter, John O’Farrell.
Following Tuesday night’s opening night of the Broadway touring company of Something Rotten at TPAC’s Jackson Hall in Nashville, Music City’s theatre community was all abuzz in the wake of what just might be the most clever musical to step foot on stage in our fair city. A standing ovation just five songs in is simply unheard of…Or is it?
Having never seen Something Rotten, I did a little research following Nashville’s opening night to discover that the well-crafted A Musical number—the song’s lyrics, choreography and melody give nod to literally dozens of beloved musicals, including everything from Avenue Q to A Chorus Line— receives the same excited response night after night, city after city, and deservedly so…and that’s just the beginning.
The show, now among my personal all-time Top Ten, kicks it into high gear from the get with Nick Rashad Burroughs’ The Minstrel and the company’s Welcome to the Renaissance on through to the final toe-tapping, hand-clapping curtain call. It’s truly a musical theatre geek’s dream, but you don’t have to be a member of the theaterati to appreciate the show. Thanks to a clever script, and wonderfully energetic and incredibly talented performances, not only from the three principals, but every last member of the company, Something Rotten has something for everyone.
Of the supporting cast, Maggie Lakis is a joy as Nick’s wife, Bea, a put-upon wife, who just might be the world’s first feminist. Her Right Hand Man duet with McClure (her real-life husband, by the way) is brilliant.
Blake Hammond’s Thomas Nostradamus—that’s right, he’s nephew to that other well-known soothsayer—plays the part of a well-intentioned, but not always accurate oracle…think Bewitched’s Aunt Clara as a man. When asked by the Bottom Brothers (yes, they go there) what Shakespeare’s next big hit will be, he scrambles Hamlet into Omelette, prompting the yolks-a-plenty creation of Omelette: The Musical, and the laughs keep coming.
Also of note are Scott Cote and Autumn Hurlbert as puritanical—but obviously latent—Brother Jeremiah and his less-than-prudish daughter, Portia. Since I’ve already likened Hammond to Aunt Clara, I might as well keep it going. Cote’s flamboyant Bible-thumper brings to mind Leslie Jordan of Will and Grace and Sordid Lives fame, while Hurlbert channels everything amazing about Kristen Chenoweth. Cote’s tongue-in-cheek performances is hysterical while Hurlbert’s sweet Portia (Shakespeare aficionados will no-doubt catch that reference) possesses one of the show’s many spectacularly talented voices.
It should also be no surprise that Something Rotten is directed by Tony winner Casey Nicholaw, having previously helmed such similarly irreverent hits as The Book of Mormon and Monty Python’s Spamalot. Nicholaw also serves as the show’s choreographer, which includes some of the most ebullient footwork ever, as well as an unexpected, but joyous tap-off between McClure’s Nick and Pascal’s Shakespeare.
On the subject of Shakespeare, within the context of Something Rotten, Pascal is the epitome of a renaissance rock god, perfectly exemplified during Will Power, a gyratingly sexually-charged number that could very well explain why we’re still talking about The Bard all these centuries later.
Something Rotten wraps its ovation-deserving Music City debut with performances through Sunday, July 2. Click Here for tickets. Not in Nashville? Not to worry. Something Rotten continues its joyful frolic across the country with tour dates now through May of 2018. Click Here for cities, dates and tickets.
Something Rotten closes the 2016/2017 TPAC season but Nashville won’t have to wait long for the 2017/2018 season to begin. Next up at TPAC will be the special event presentation of Disney’s The Little Mermaid onstage 8/1-8-6. The 2017/2018 Broadway season will then officially kick off at TPAC September 8 with the premiere of Part of the Plan, a New American Musical featuring the songbook of Dan Fogelberg. Other featured productions coming to TPAC include Fun Home, An American In Paris, Les Miserables, Jersey Boys, The King and I, The Illusionists, Cabaret, Wicked, Waitress and Love Never Dies. Click Here for more information.
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