REVIEW: Something Rotten

SOMETHING ROTTEN is the best touring show to come through Cincinnati in some time.  That’s a bold statement, I realize, but it has everything necessary for a great musical comedy. It’s funny and even when the jokes might be over the non-musical theatre nerds heads, the delivery is hysterical.  The songs, by Wayne and Kasey Kirkpatrick, and are pretty and big and hummable.  The characters well developed and professionally performed.  There’s outstanding, elaborate tap numbers.

And the opening night audience – including me – loved it.

The plot: Nick and Nigel Bottom, playwrighting brothers, are looking for a hit.  The problem is that William Shakespeare continues to write blockbuster after blockbuster.  Nick seeks advice from a fortune-teller, who gets things wrong with hilarious results.  Oh, and Nigel falls in love with a Puritan girl.  Trust me, it’s all friggin funny.

Fans of musical theatre will revel in the references, musical interludes, and irreverent jabs at the genre.  Shakespeare lovers will also find their funny bones tickled.  And for those who like neither . . . Well, buy a ticket anyway.  The show is a riot even if you don’t get all the jokes.

Rob McClure leads the stellar cast as Nick Bottom, while Josh Grisetti shines as the awkward poet, Nigel.  Maggie Lakis has great comedy chops and belts with the best of them as Nick’s wife, Bea, while Autum Hurlbert plays Portia, the Puritan love interest of Nigel, with zeal.  Adam Pascal, the original Roger in Rent, is bombastic as William Shakespeare while Blake Hammond lights up the stage as Nostradamus.  Best of all was Scott Cote as “Brother Jeremiah,” the effeminate clergy member and father of Portia, who steals every scene.

The ensemble is also filled with fantastic hoofers, singers, and actors.  Nick Rashad Burrows starts the show and has terrific presence.  Pierce Cassedy, a CCM grad (I saw him as Che’ in EVITA in Corbett Auditorium at the University of Cincinnati several years ago and was blown away), is fantastic as is Tonya Thompson and the rest of the cast.  There’s not a weak link on stage – or off.

The sound was spot on all night, all lighting effects on cue, and the band was kicking.  If I were to find fault with anything, Act One felt a tad long.  However, I was still entertained throughout the over two-hour run.

This is Wayne Kirkpatrick’s first Broadway show; he’s been a composer for years.  It is a delight to see him having this kind of success in a whole new genre.  If this is the future of musical comedy . . . Then yes, please.

I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Go see it.  Go see it.  Go see it!

SOMETHING ROTTEN runs through March 5th at the Aronoff Center in downtown Cincinnati.  Click here for more details.