Musical Review: Something Rotten

I thought I would do a little something different today and review a musical.

I recently went to a production of Something Rotten with my Mum and little brobot and I’m happy to report it far exceeded my expectations!

I’ll admit I didn’t read up on it before we went. Mum said it was a comedy about Shakespeare and it was somewhat vulgar, so I assumed I would enjoy it. I absolutely loved it and would love to see it again.

It was funny, sweet and self-aware, both paying homage to and making fun of popular musicals (the Les Mis reference had me cackling). There’s a lot of crude humor (example: a lyric along the lines of “don’t be a penis, that man is a genius”), but just as many clever jokes. There was more modern social commentary than I expected too!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, here’s the description from my local theater:

Welcome to the ‘90s — the 1590s — long before the dawn of premium tickets, star casting and reminders to turn off your cell phones. Brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star known as “The Bard.” When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical! But amidst the scandalous excitement of opening night, the Bottom brothers realize that reaching the top means being true to thine own self… and all that jazz.

I was immediately impressed by the costumes. Even without my glasses, I could see they were gorgeous and so bright – I loved the color palette. The sets were simple, but effective and most of the set changes were worked into the song and dance numbers. Probably this is standard, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen a play or musical.

The songs were hilarious and instantly catchy. At the end of the night, brobot and I were humming the chorus to the finale the whole way home. The Omelet number (see the play and this will make sense) had me laughing so hard I was crying and stomping my feet and slapping my legs – it takes a lot to get me to that point.

There were a few tap numbers too, which I didn’t expect. I love tap dancing! There’s even a tap battle between Shakespeare and Nick. Who doesn’t love a tap battle? I also recognized Nick’s voice as the actor who played the male lead in the production of Avenue Q Mum and I saw.

The characters were great – Shakespeare is basically a rock god and total pompous asshole. Nick is stubborn and sour, but determined to provide for his family. His wife is feminist and clever; ready to disguise herself as a man to get a job. Nigel is sweet and creative; yearning to share his poetry with the Puritan girl he loves.

As always, watching a musical I enjoy makes me think I missed my calling. Er, except that I can’t sing, dance, act or memorize anything really. But the cast conveyed such a sense of joy and fun that I wished I was among them.

I can’t wait to listen to the soundtrack (even though I actually prefer the voices of the cast I saw over the original Broadway cast) and laugh all over again. If you get a chance to see this, please do! No Shakespeare or musical knowledge required.

*images from the Something Rotten site

 

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