Much of what’s going on in the country right now stinks, but Something Rotten isn’t one of them. The original musical that opened Tuesday at the Fox is an evening of mirth and mayhem, and so desperately needed at this moment that it seems almost unpatriotic to miss it. Brothers Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick (Kasey and John O’Farrell share credit for the book) have created something rare: A real, true original musical. It isn’t based on a source of any kind except their fertile imaginations and professed lifelong love of musical theatre. It took this egg about 20 years to hatch, but what you’ll see on stage was worth the wait.

SomethingsRotten2
So, what can a couple of struggling playwright brothers do in the face of a cultural phenom like Will Shakespeare (Adam Pascal), a Queen-style rocker who takes his moves from Jagger and his swagger from Stewart? First, Nick Bottom (Rob McClure) kicked Will out of their company for poor acting and suggested he try writing instead, so the cult of Shakespeare was his own fault, and now he and his sibling Nigel (Josh Grizetti) are victims of the Bard’s vast popularity. “Why is he ‘THE’ Bard,” Nick laments. “We’re ALL bards!” So here we are, and “Welcome to the Renaissance,” the minstrel (Nick Rashad Burroughs) and the company greet us in the opening number.


What we find in the late 16th century is is a send-up of Shakespeare’s plays, about 1,000 musicals, theater folk, religious fanatics, closeted homosexuals—and a whole bunch of other stuff that you either know or don’t know. You may get the in-jokes, you may not, but it does not matter because you’ll be too busy laughing to care. The show takes hilarity to a brand new level, a mishmash of farce and satire that will leave you in stitches. I’m going to coin a word here: “Fartire,” and considering all the “Bottom” jokes, the term isn’t inappropriate.


The Bottoms are struggling mightily to eke out a living while Shakespeare’s fans are worshipping him in his sonnet readings “in the Park.” Nick’s wife, Bea (Maggie Lakis) wants to get a job as an actor, but since that’s illegal, she finds stage work by cross-dressing, much to her husband’s dismay. Nigel is a dreamer, a poet who just wants to be left alone to create, but Nick is a hustler, and he’s determined to beat Will Shakespeare at the theatrical game. When his backer, Shylock (Jeff Brooks) dumps him because Shakespeare has promised to call a character in a play after him (“Shylock: The Good Jew”), he takes the family’s life savings and seeks a soothsayer. He finds Nostradamus, but not that one; it’s the prophet’s nephew “Thomas (Blake Hammond),” whose sooth isn’t necessarily accurately said at all times. But he comes so close. . . .


Thomas foresees the future of the theater and it is. . . . wait for it. . . the musical! Nick is appalled at the idea, so Thomas tells him all about it in the wonderful “A Musical” where the actors and chorus seem to have a blast singing and dancing in the styles of different shows and choreographers. Nick enthusiastically goes to Nigel with the prediction and sets to work. His subject: the plague (“The Black Death”). Nigel leaves in disgust and encounters Portia (Autumn Hurlbert), a starry-eyed Puritan daughter of a minister, the extremely sexually ambiguous Brother Jeremiah (Scott Cote), who, of course, doesn’t approve. It is love at first sight (“I Love the Way”) but obviously, not without complications. And are these names starting to sound familiar?


By the time Act II is underway with songs like “It’s Hard to be the Bard,” in which Shakespeare laments his writing difficulties—no wonder he steals ideas from others!—but how much he enjoys the fame, and “It’s Eggs,” reflecting where the musical finally lands on a more palatable subject (you just have to be there), this cast owns us. Does the action make sense? Well, does it make sense for people to just stop what they’re doing and start singing and dancing in the middle of a show? Of course not. Do we love it anyway? You bet we do.


A special shout-out goes to the singing and dancing ensemble for versatility and overall brilliance under the direction of Casey Nicholaw who also gets credit as the main choreographer. The orchestra in the pit is challenged by an ever-changing score supervised by Phil Reno and arranged by Glen Kelly and the musicians are outstanding. I nearly forgot to mention them because the show is so brilliantly organic that I almost forgot it had accompaniment. A whole lot of collaborators are needed to pull off a show like this one, and you can see all their names in the playbill. In a word: Wow!


For more information, visit www.fabulousfox.com and tickets are available in person at the box office or through www.ticketmaster.com.

 

Share..

INstrgram circle Facebookcircle twittercirlce2 tubblrcircle3 linkedincircle2 redditcircle2 youtubecircle3VimeocirclePinterest Circle Icongooglepluscircleello-logo