Review by Lauryn Angel
Something Rotten is a delightful musical loosely based around the works of William Shakespeare. I know: Shakespeare. Boring, right? Not so fast! In this musical, set in 1590, Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) is the equivalent of a rock star – complete with over-inflated ego — and the Bottom brothers – Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel (Josh Grisetti) — are playwrights struggling to get out of the Bard’s shadow.
Nick Bottom’s frustrations with his fate are perfectly captured in “God, I Hate Shakespeare” – a number that will likely resonate with anyone who has struggled with Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet in high school. Desperate for a hit, he spends the family savings to consult a soothsayer named Thomas Nostradamus, who sees the future. Sort-of. Nostradamus puts Nick on the path to creating the musical, which Nigel is tapped to write. Meanwhile, Nigel has fallen in love with Portia (Autumn Hurlbert), the poetically-inclined daughter of Brother Jeremiah (Scott Cote), a Puritan leader who wants to abolish the theaters. Meanwhile, Nick’s wife, Bea (Maggie Lakis) is determined to usher in feminism single-handedly – it is the ‘90s, after all! And Shakespeare? Well, he’s the villain of the piece, determined to thwart the Bottom brothers at every turn.
I laughed pretty-much non-stop, from the opening number of “Welcome to the Renaissance” to the Finale. The songs are exceedingly clever, whether they are poking fun at the genre of musicals or at Shakespeare himself. “A Musical” contains nods to more than a dozen musicals, including dance numbers. (Think Rockettes. With codpieces.) The ensemble cast is fantastic, but I particularly enjoyed Adam Pascal’s Shakespeare – “It’s Hard to Be the Bard” is my favorite number in the show – and Scott Cote’s double-entendre-spouting Brother Jeremiah.
Something Rotten continues at the Winspear Opera House through June 25. Don’t miss it!