To paraphrase the bard, there’s nothing rotten with the state of entertainment in Boston this week! A hit Broadway musical has just launched its national tour right here at the Boston Opera House: SOMETHING ROTTEN! It is, however, overripe–with big production numbers, superb voices, witty songs, exuberant choreography, and copious laughs. In other words, it’s a feast for anyone who likes their musicals riotously scrambled or sunny side up! Below is a trailer featuring the Broadway cast:
The hilarious opening number welcomes us to the Renaissance where playwriting brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are stymied; they haven’t been able to outwit or outwrite their competition, the devilishly talented “Will who can ‘thrill with a quill’ Shakespeare.” The dazzling Adam Pascal hot off the broadway production swaggers like Jagger in the part, whipping his and our audience into a frenzy.
The Bottom brothers can’t bear the bard and consult a cockeyed soothsayer (Blake Hammond as Nostradamus) who peers into the future and spies a brand new kind of theatrical called a “Musical” where the performers suddenly burst into song out of nowhere! Nick takes the idea and runs, amok, with it.
What ensues is a madcap mashup of musical theater of Nick’s clumsy devising, involving CATS and CHORUS LINEs, Nazis and nuns, PHANTOMs and FIDDLERs and someone named ANNIE on a roof, where no one pays RENT and some are “MISer-ahh–bluh”!! The music & lyrics (Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick) and book (Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell)lovingly lampoon all those wild and wacky conventions of musical theater we’ve grown so accustomed to– and Shakespeare takes his lumps too.
Two numbers brought the show to a halt on opening night, one an uproarious melange of the aforementioned musicals, and another a howlingly funny tap-dancing ode to the plague called “The Black Death” which channeled Mel Brooks and made me scream. Indeed, this vivacious troupe attacked every number with energy and elan to spare.
Rob McClure as the needy, knuckle-headed Bottom brother Nick, and Josh Grisetti as the geeky, gifted Nigel are the dynamic duo who delightfully reprise their Broadway roles. Nigel woos the perky Portia (Autumn Hurlbert whose soprano is as clear and sharp as crystal). In fact, the couple’s mutual passion for poetry inspires them to virtual coupling over couplets! Scott Cote as Brother Jeremiah, Portia’s pompous cleric of a father was so funny squelching his giddiness, I laughed myself silly just watching him breathe.
The show does stretch its premise almost to the satiric breaking point, and I wasn’t exactly emotionally invested in the action. Jeff Brooks’ “Shylock” fell as flat as his quasi-yiddish delivery of lines like, “I have naches in my pupick.” I’d have gone with “latkes in my gotkes”(And I’m a shiksa.)
But when all is said and done, director/choreographer Casey (“The book of Mormon”) Nicholaw has orchestrated a fabulously fun, witty, upbeat night at the theater where “Something Rotten!” is in full bloom now through 1/29 at the Boston Opera House.