Oh to be an usher at the St. James Theatre. Oh to be able to relish over and over again the “song and dance, romance and happy ending” of SOMETHING ROTTEN! Not to mention the hilarity and show stopping numbers. The wondrous and witty lyrics. The sing along tunes. The thespians. The fair maidens, tap dancing eggs and hefty cod pieces. Everything catches the eye and ear. And one better be quick and attentive or else you will miss the endless satirical theatrical references to everything musical comedy-ish, Shakespearean and naughty.
We must bow down to or stand up and cheer the brothers Kirkpatrick – Karey and Wayne and John O’Farrell who have concocted this truly original non-stop laugh fest that combines the names of many of Shakespeare’s characters (and Shakespeare himself), the skewered wit of Forbidden Broadway and the smart and clever lyrics reminiscent of Cole Porter to some very memorable tunes. It’s an all-around hoot. A cartoon come to life in living color.
The Bottom brothers Nick (a robust Brian D’Arcy James) and Nigel (a shy but determined John Cariani) need to come up with a new idea for a play for their theatrical troupe to outdo their arch rival Shakespeare (an amazing rock-star influenced Christian Borle) whose “Will Power” has the audience begging for more.
Nigel wants to be true to himself and write from the heart. Nick is more practical and seeks the advice of a soothsayer – Nostradamus (a delirious Brad Oscar) who foretells that the next big thing in theatre will be actors singing songs which leads to the Act I showstopper “A Musical.”
Along the way Nigel falls for Portia (Kate Reinders – the look alike/sound alike Kristin Chenoweth – a brilliant touch done on purpose I’m convinced) the daughter of the Puritan Brother Jeremiah (the not very subtle Brooks Ashmanskas) whose sexual innuendo jokes are delicious and never gross.
Along the same way Nick’s trying to be liberated wife Bea (the always dependable Heidi Blickenstaff) attempts to earn some money doing a man’s job while tending their newborn baby and singing up a storm and being funny to boot.
Peter Bartlett just has to appear as Lord Clapham as a Patron of the Arts to induce giggles and then guffaws as he goes into his act. And Gerry Vichi as Shylock is as convincing a token second banana Jew as one can get.
There are disguises. Romance. Frivolity. And another show stopping number “Make an Omelette” (not to be confused with Hamlet) with a chorus of dancing eggs tap dancing their way into theatrical history. See the show for details.
Not only is SOMETHING ROTTEN! an avalanche of laughs but it is beautiful to look at thanks to set designer Scott Pask, costumes by Gregg Barnes and lighting by Jeff Croiter recreating jolly old London.
Direction and choreography is spot on by Casey Nicholaw. What a master he is! Once the show begins with Michael James Scott as the Genie inspired Minstrel SOMETHING ROTTEN! barrels forward to its heartfelt and glorious ending. It’s an absolutely funtastical entertainment.
Photos: Joan Marcus
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