Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Spoofing Musicals and Shakespeare, "Something Rotten" Smells Like a Good Time

Cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)
Something Rotten
5th Avenue Theatre
Through October 1, 2017

If you love musicals, one of the fun parts of seeing the national tour of Something Rotten is the opportunity to listen hard for all the different musicals spoofed or mentioned or sung for one or two bars of music. In this YouTube video,, they'll show you which ones are mentioned in the song, A Musical. Musicals such as Fascinating Rhythm, Gypsy, Seussical, The Music Man, South Pacific, Les Miserables, RENT, A Chorus Line, Chicago, EVITA, Putting It Together, Annie, Guys and Dolls, Sweet Charity, Hello Dolly, Cats, Sweeney Todd, and Busby Berkeley-style dance moves.

While not entirely a "laugh-riot," this genial show comes packaged with a reasonable message, suitable for children: To Thine Own Self Be True (which they even make a song out of). But beware, there are some very sophisticated swearwords used, so there's a bit of a disincentive to consider it family-friendly.

Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw keeps everything bubbling along, and puts every funny, cliche dance step in that he can think of! The play is set in the Renaissance in England, in the 1580's, yet unless they're quoting that Bard Guy, Shakespeare, they're speaking in vernacular American, circa 2016. So, Nicholaw borrows from Bob Fosse, and Michael Kidd, and Jerome Robbins, and Tommy Tune, and the afore-mentioned Busby Berkeley.

A quick synopsis: The Bottom brothers (oh, yeah, look for PLENTY of Shakespeare jokes, too), Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel (Josh Grisetti), have to come up with a brand-new idea for a show or they are completely out of the theater business. Nick can't bear to let his wife, Bea (Maggie Lakis) down, so he steals their house stash to get some advice from a soothsayer named Nostradamus (Blake Hammond). 

Nick asks if the fortuneteller will predict what Shakespeare's biggest hit will be in the future. Nostradamus almost gets it right. He tells Nick that Shakespeare will write a play called Omelet. That's pretty close, right? Also, while Nick struggles with a new idea, Nostradamus explains that, in the future, there will be something called "a musical." People will break into song to advance the plot and express their feelings. And...get this! There will be dancing, too!

Nick sets off to write and produce Omelet the Musical with Nigel and their band of players. But beware, Shakespeare himself (Adam Pascal) is sniffing around trying to keep up with their plans. Will he spoil their show? Will he steal all of Nigel's best stuff for himself?

Even if you don't know enough other musicals to guess which ones are getting mentioned, it's plenty easy to follow this slight and amusing plot. With a willing cast and solid technical and musical surroundings, this show can certainly entertain you for an evening.

For more information, go to or call 206-625-1418. 

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