Rob Reviews "Something Rotten!"
Take the work of Mel Brooks, combine it with “Monty Python,” set it to music during the Renaissance, and you have “Something Rotten!”, which is in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area at the Winspear Opera House through June 25th.
In this production, designed by music legend Wayne Kirkpatrick and his brother Karey, it is the 1500s, and William Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) is the rock star of England after parting ways with a previous acting and directing partner named Nick Bottom (Rob McClure). Nick is trying to compete, along with his brother Nigel (Josh Grisetti) as the writer, but they just cannot seem to come up with the idea that will put them on the level of The Bard. After taking his entire savings to see a soothsayer named Nostradamus (Blake Hammond), he decides that they will create the first musical and even at the expense of what Nostradamus sees as what will be Shakespeare’s biggest hit.
Let’s not bury the lead here: this is the best time I have spent at the theatre in YEARS. For those of you that may be new to our little show, you may want to go back and look and/or listen to some of the productions that we have been privileged to be asked to attend and review, a list that is long and distinguished. From world premieres to multiple Tony-award winning shows (of which this one has nine nominations and a win), we have run the gambit, and this is right at the top of at least this year’s list right now. This is a production that is entertaining from beginning to end, with rock solid choreography, great musicianship and performances, and spot on set design and lighting. To say that “Something Rotten!” is witty could be a travesty of understatement, with no production being safe to its parody with numbers like “A Musical” and “Make an Omelette,” both of which while smack dab in the middle of their acts, got a standing ovation from the office, and I have never seen that before in my entire life. There are also a number of songs here that have very complex and wordy requirements from their performers, and this cast nails it on each and every beat. Pascal shines in “Hard to be the Bard” and even in the section where he disguises himself to go undercover for information on his rivals’ production, his transition is flawless. McClure and Grisetti are absolutely spot-on as the Bottom Brothers, with chemistry that gives the feeling that they have known each other since they were little ones, and Hammond gives a performance reminiscent of Bobby Moynihan (and that is high praise from me) as the soothsayer that supplies some of the great comedic moments of the show. This insanely talented cast is rounded out by standout performances by Maggie Lakis as Nick’s wife, Bea, in “Right Hand Man” as well as Scott Cote as Brother Jeremiah, the Puritan minister that may or may not believe in everything he preaches, and a very convincing turn by Autumn Hulrbert as Portia, Jeremiah’s daughter who wants to break away from her conservative beliefs and live her passions, and those include Nigel. (As a side note, McClure, Pascal, and Grisetti all played their respective roles in the final lineup on Broadway, so getting to see them on this national tour makes it even more special.)
If you are the type of person that has any knowledge of the theatre, there will be moments where howling laughter will fill the hall, and even if you are not, there is enough comedy here to not make that demographic felt left behind. The comedy is more than enough here, but the amazing performances push it to a whole different level. Be wowed by the daring script, be wowed by the incredible choreography from Eric Giancola, and just be wowed. No matter how you see this, do so unapologetically; it’s THAT good!