I saw Something Rotten! last night and it was wonderful! Pardon the silly play on words, but if that ain’t your thing, read no further. However, if you’re looking for a fun night out, then read on:
Opening night for Something Rotten! in Dallas ended with a cheering crowd and a standing ovation. This much-lauded original comedy musical with book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, and score by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick plays through June 25 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House in the downtown Dallas Arts District.
The plot for Something Rotten! is delightfully silly. While the dialogue is chock full of references to Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays, the production is about as historically accurate as a Warner Brothers cartoon. It’s clear from the opening act that the main goal of this show is simply to make you laugh – and isn’t that just what we need sometimes?
Something Rotten! tells the story of brothers, Nick and Nigel Bottom, and the conflicts they face as a playwriting duo. Nick is desperate for a hit, while Nigel wants to write something meaningful and heartfelt. (Fittingly, the score for Something Rotten! comes from a pair of brothers, Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick, who have had successful careers following different paths, but came together to create this show.)
Desperate for a successful play, Nick Bottom seeks the advice of a sooth-sayer named Nostradamus (Blake Hammon), who predicts that, as strange as it sounds, in the future people will watch plays where actors don’t just talk, they sing and dance, as well.
Here’s a quick little YouTube video highlighting this part. And, yeah, that glam-rockin’ dude is The Bard, himself, complete with his leather clad entourage and their prominent codpieces:
Much of the humor in Something Rotten! comes from poking fun at the seemingly ridiculous idea of having actors sing and dance. Along the way, they pay tribute to everything from “The Sound of Music” and “Cats” to “Chicago,” “Dreamgirls” and many more. Catching all the references to musical theater (as well as Shakespeare’s works), will keep you on your toes!
One of the catchiest tunes in Something Rotten! is simply called “A Musical.” Not only is it toe-tapping, but the number includes a lengthy choreographed section with a good ole-fashioned chorus line and such a rousing tap dance that it nearly earned the show a standing ovation in the first act.
As the story continues, Nick’s wife, Bea, takes a series of ridiculous odd jobs to earn money. “This is the 90’s!” she declares. Never mind that it’s the 1590’s and that she must disguise herself as a man in order to be hired.
Meanwhile, the other Bottom brother, Nigel, (Josh Grisetti) falls in love with the daughter of an uptight Puritan, a man who declares their plays to be the work of Satan. Brother Jeremiah (Scott Cote) as he is called by his flock, is so sexually repressed that everything he says is drenched with sexual innuendo. Even his body language got laughs.
Nigel Bottom’s love interest, the poetry-loving preacher’s daughter, Portia, ( Autumn Hurlbert) truly brightened the stage. I especially enjoyed the number “We See the Light,” in which Portia and Nigel spin off into a wonderfully ridiculous song and dance daydream of how they can convince Brother Jeremiah to accept their relationship.
Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that in the world of Something Rotten!, Shakespeare himself (played to cocky perfection by the talented Adam Pascal) is the bad guy. Of course, I wouldn’t really call him “bad” so much as “delightfully villainous.”
And even though one of the main numbers in the show is entitled, “God, I Hate Shakespeare,” the entire production of Something Rotten! is clearly an affectionate homage to him, albeit a tongue-in-cheek comedic roast of an homage! My advice? Get thee to a ticket vendor while it’s still in town!
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See Something Rotten! in Dallas:
Where: AT&T Performing Arts Center/Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201
Tickets: Check availability and book online at the AT&T Performing Art Center official website.
Runtime: Runs for 2 hours and 20 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.
NOTE: While tickets were provided for review purposes, the opinions expressed in this article are wholly my own.
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Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in North Texas travel, cemetery symbols, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!”
Snider’s best-selling books include Paranormal Texas , Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and 100 Things to Do in Dallas - Fort Worth Before You Die.