Desperate times call for desperate measures. And for Elizabethan playwright, Nick Bottom that meant consulting a soothsayer to predict what the next big thing in theatre will be. Needless to say, if creating a hit was that easy, then every writer would be in the same league as Dekker, Webster, Marlowe or the Bard himself, Shakespeare.
Back in the mid-90’s, brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick first came up with the idea for their 16th century comedy Something Rotten! Nearly two decades later, things materialized when author John O’ Farrell joined efforts with Karey Kirkpatrick to write the book for the musical. The story was then pitched to Tony-winning producer Kevin McCollum, before opening at the St. James Theatre in April 2015. The production marked the Broadway debut for the Kirkpatrick’s and O’ Farrell.
Set in 1595, Nick Bottom (Rob McClure) and his brother Nigel (Josh Grisetti) are about to lose funding for their theatre troupe unless they can write London’s newest smash-hit. To make matters worse, their archrival, William Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) is reveling in the success of his latest masterpiece “Romeo and Juliet.” To outshine The Bard, Nick hires Thomas Nostradamus (Blake Hammond), nephew of the famous astrologer to help him create something far superior than his contemporary. When his visions are misinterpreted though, it steers the Bottom brothers into rollicking pandemonium.
Some may argue the jokes in Something Rotten! were a one-trick pony, however, musical theatre enthusiasts would agree the brazen punchlines were reminiscent of the madcap antics by legendary comedy writer Mel Brooks.
McClure, who leads the all-star cast, delights with the perfect mix of humor and tenacity. Grisetti’s understated performance and golden voice is as poetic as the writings in his character’s notebook and if fan-favorite Pascal (well, Pascal’s backside) received applause for merely walking across the stage during the opening number, then you can imagine the love he received for the rest of his performance.
Back at home, Nick’s valiant wife Bea (Maggie Lakis) acquires several odd jobs to help support the family. Ah, the perks of being married to the artist type. Their on stage chemistry is unparalleled, befitting as McClure and Lakis are real-life husband and wife. Meanwhile, Nigel is smitten by Portia (Autumn Hurlbert), daughter of town puritan leader, Brother Jeremiah (Scott Cote).
Karey Kirkpatrick, who worked on such films as James and the Giant Peach and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Wayne Kirkpatrick, the man behind such classic hits as “Change the World” by Eric Clapton and “Every Heartbeart” by Amy Grant, also wrote the music and lyrics for Something Rotten! The songs shift from gut-busting showstoppers (Make an Omelette) to classic rock anthems (Will Power) to one of the biggest extravaganzas in Broadway history (A Musical), which garnered a mid-show standing ovation.
Director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw, best known for his work in Monty Python’s Spamalot and The Book of Mormon has once again outdone himself. His Broadway tap routines, in particular left audiences begging for more. And if puffy pants, pointy leather boots and petticoats are your thing, then you’ve come to the right place. The costumes by Gregg Barnes were striking, whimsical and even accentuated the nether regions of the male ensemble, while still allowing them to keep up with Nicholaw’s rigorous moves.
Shakespeare wrote: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” All rings true about the cast and creative team of Something Rotten!
Ticket Prices: $30 – $130 (Ticket prices are subject to change.)
Tickets are available online at https://www.centertheatregroup.org, by calling the Box Office at (213) 628-2772 or in person at 135 N Grand Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90012