No Rotten Tomatoes Here!
There was a playwright that ruled art and literature with the stroke of his feathered ink pen, and no one in England could come close to captivating his work. William Shakespeare dominated the stage with his Renaissance influence in his work. His ideology made him a celebrity where today's selfie and a profile picture was simply a portrait drawn to your likeness. Shakespeare was the rave of theater; however, two brothers who also inspired to be playwriters, felt a change was needed. And the Bottom Brothers were ready to take over the literature stage and dethrone the King of literature!
Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, IL takes us back in time to the Renaissance period of 1595 with this 1990s infusion of the provincial opening of SOMETHING ROTTEN! This hilarious musical with farthingales and codpieces which were the hottest fashion trends of the era received Ten Tony Awards nominations including Best Musical.
The smash-hit Something Rotten!, is an original musical comedy written by John O'Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick and music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick. The plot follows the writing team, The Bottom brothers who are desperately trying to write a hit play to keep their acting playhouse open.
Unfortunately, Nick (KJ Hippensteel) and Nigel (Alex Goodrich) finds themselves struggling with funding and, writer's block as they try to find success in the theatrical world.
The Bottom brothers feel as though they are stuck in his shadow of the popularity of William Shakespeare (Adam Jacobs). Shakespeare, known as the Rock Star' The Bard,' who has an entourage called 'The Power of Will' that protects him from hordes of squealing fans and wealthy patrons is the talk of the town; and unfortunately for the brothers the only playwright, the townspeople are talking about.
However, not to be outdone, Nick comes up with a plan and consults with a local fortune-teller, a distant cousin of Nostradamus (Ross Lehman). Nostradamus predicts that theatres will be emerging into singing, acting, and dancing, which leads to Nick writing the world's first MUSICAL, 'Omelet!, the mispredicted stolen work of William Shakespeare' Hamlet.
Something Rotten delivers on a genre that gives way to very amusing over the top opening number with 'Minstrel' (Jonathan Butler-Duplessis). Duplessis does an excellent job welcoming the audience to the English Renaissance as they sing 'Welcome to the Renaissance." Minstrel engages the audience by telling us that 'not everybody will get what they want in this musical,' as he refers to the Bottom brothers.
Weinstein ensemble is filled with razor-sharp comedic timing from beginning to the end. The stressed-out Hippensteel, as Nick, filled with dubious intentions, is willing to sacrifice the family savings to pay the fortune-teller to get a blockbuster hit. His wife Bea (Cassie Slater) 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.)
Goodrich as Nigel as Nick's younger brother that seems lost but is the only true playwright of the Bottom Brothers. Even Shakesphere recognized this poetic prodigy. Nigel new poetic words of love come from him falling head over heels for bubbly blonde Portia (Rebecca Hurd). She is the daughter of Brother Jeremiah (Gene Weygandt), the Puritan preacher, who believes the works of Shakespeare and those that speak similar words are living a sinful life.
Then there's the scene-stealer Jacobs as Shakespeare. The Renaissance Rocker who has swagger and struts across the stage with his petulant ego of a bad boy, that's used to getting everything he wants without argument. Jacobs charisma and flair will make you look at Shakespeare in a totally different way.
Lehman, another scene-stealer of the play as Nostradamus left a lasting impression as he brought down the house with the riotously hilarious "A Musical." This number that ushered in A Chorus Line to Rent and was the funniest showstoppers in the theater.
Is this musical over the top…yes! Is this musical delightfully hilarious…yes!
The musical that is direct from Broadway is full of overstuffed-unto-bursting codpieces, and lengthy numbers with non-sequitur tap dances with many references to modern-day musicals; but its works. The musical celebrates the ridiculous instead of the sublime, and it's quite entertaining. Something Rotten!, is worth the trip to Lincolnshire.
Let's Play 'Highly Recommends' this splendid over-the-top musical with The Tony-nominated score which includes "God, I Hate Shakespeare," "Bottom's Gonna Be on Top," and "Right Hand Man."
Book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell
Music and Lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
Directed by Scott Weinstein
August 28th through October 20th
Filed under: ChicagoNow