Couple shared performance passion leading to live show


Posted by Bob Evans

Couple Shares Passion for Performance During ‘Something Rotten’ at The White Theatre at The J

 Overland Park, Kan. – It isn’t often that performers have the opportunity to share their passion for the stage with their significant other, but during The White Theatre’s run of “Something Rotten,” Ashton Botts and Austin Stang do just that.

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Stang will play William Shakespeare while Botts acts in the female ensemble and as the understudy for Portia in the musical comedy “Something Rotten,” which opens this Saturday at The White Theatre at The J.

Set in the 1590s, this crowd-pleasing musical farce follows brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, who are desperate to step out of Shakespeare’s shadow and create something never-before-seen: a musical.

This isn’t Botts’ first time appearing in “Something Rotten,” or in a performance at The J, for that matter. Botts joined the cast this past spring, as The J successfully put on the same show, albeit virtually. After a triumphant run, the show was brought back for the fall, only this time in person. Botts immediately signed on again, and she convinced her boyfriend to audition.

“We knew that we were going to need someone to replace Fisher (Stewart) for Shakespeare in this remount at The J, and the role requires such a specific type with specific talents, and Austin was a natural fit to take over,” she said.

The role requires a skilled tapper, experience Stang has in spades, as a tap teacher with Encore! Dance at The J. In fact, Stang is heavily involved in multiple programs at The J.

“I am also assistant director and choreographer for the Stages class where another director and I work with students ages 9-14 on aspects of performing and building confidence on stage,” he said. “We are currently working on “Suessical Jr.” which will perform in December!”

Although they’re performing together, they don’t often share the stage due to their roles. Instead, they find other ways to support each other.

“We’re kind of ships passing in the night on the run of the show because he has a very specific track with the male ensemble and not as much with the female (ensemble),” Botts said. “But we can sit in the back and watch and support each other from an audience perspective.”

However, when they do get the chance to be on stage simultaneously, the pair take advantage of the fun moments.

“Shakespeare is obviously that kind of rockstar character,” Botts said. “Tim (Bair, director) and Liz (Ernst, choreographer) have used that as a good opportunity for me to fawn over him a little extra, or for him and me to have little moments that, if you know we’re a couple, are a little funnier. When I’m Portia, there’s a scene where she passes out because she’s so blown away by his presence, which is fun.”

“Something Rotten” isn’t the first time they’ve performed together – the couple met in 2019 when they played across from each other in the Olathe Civic Theatre Association’s production of “Bright Star.” That said, there is something about The J that creates a special environment for them.

“The J is just a wonderful place,” Stang said. “Even though it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a production (Stang first performed in the 2008 production “Crazy For You”), The J has such a great history of amazing shows, wonderful directors and staff, INSANE sets, and an overall fantastic experience for all.”

“The J is my favorite place to work,” Botts added. “I just love the community, I love the people I get to spend time with. It’s rare to do community theatre in a facility that’s so beautiful and has the capacity to do huge shows like ‘Something Rotten,’ so anytime The J has a show, I am there.”

When asked if they were planning to audition for any of the upcoming productions, both said they would be eager to take the stage at The J again. And as for performing together?

“It’s honestly the greatest,” Stang said. “Sharing a passion with your significant other is truly amazing.”

“Something Rotten” opens at The J this Saturday, Nov. 6 and runs on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 20. Tickets are available at or in person at The White Theatre’s box office.

As part of The White Theatre’s COVID-19 vaccination policy, all guests must either be fully vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. For more information, visit

About The J

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City opened in 1914 in midtown Kansas City, Missouri and has grown and adapted to serve the changing needs of Greater Kansas City’s Jewish and secular communities. Our mission is to build a strong, vibrant and inclusive community that enhances wellness, meaning, and joy, based on Jewish values, heritage, and culture. We are a welcoming community that embodies Jewish values in a safe and respectful environment. People of all ages and backgrounds learn and grow at our ‘home away from home.’ For more information, visit

About The White Theatre

The Lewis & Shirley White Theatre, built in 2005, is a 500 seat, state-of-the-art venue that hosts a wide variety of performances throughout the year. Its annual theatre and concert series continues a 90+ year community theatre tradition, established in 1932, with The Resident Theatre, the region’s first and longest-running community theatre. Ample free parking is available, and the theatre is entirely accessible for those of all abilities. The theatre is available for private rentals for area non-profit groups.


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