Slapstick meets Shakespeare meets musical in ‘Something Rotten!’

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Jewish Community Center/Something Rotten!/Ryan Bruce

If you have not watched the streaming version of “Something Rotten!”, ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Start quoting him now’ because you are gonna need that, and you also revisit all your favorite Broadway musicals ’cause they are all alluded to throughout this delightful romp.

During the COVID crisis, live theatres struggle to entertain, searching for ways to present theatre to lovers of the Performing Arts. The J found a way to produce a Broadway musical that streams to your computer to smart TV with all the panache of the live show. What’s even better, everyone in the house gets a front-row seat and can see all the expressions of the actors, the fine detail of the costumes, the choreography, and hear all the lines as loud as they want.

“We did bring in a very small “studio audience” (masked, distanced – 20 people in a 500 seat auditorium) for filming, so viewers should at least hear some live audience reaction,” Keith Wiedenkeller, Director of Arts + Culture/Managing Director, said.

With this streaming production, the behind-the-scenes techniques stand out strong and make the acting, singing, and dancing even more enjoyable. The opulence of the costumes and sets strikes the viewers on one of the first light cues. From a dark stage, a spotlight focuses on Raheem Fielder-Bey, in jester costume, as he opens the show with his strong vocal prowess as he welcomes his audience to the Renaissance and the musical comedy “welcoming” song. As he sings and gathers the ensemble on stage, the lights open on the actors, the divine, sumptuous set by Kelly Harrod, and colorful costumes by Arwen White.

Jewish Community Center/Something Rotten!/Ryan Bruce

As the first number ends, viewers are treated to the technical aspects of the show by such talents as Jon Robertson, sound; choreography by Liz Ernst; lighting design by Justin Dudzik; properties design by Jeremy Smith; among others who created the on-stage magic.

With direction by Tim Bair and musical direction by Marsha Canady, viewers know the feast awaits. Those familiar with all the aforementioned names, know a quality, crowd-pleasing production awaits. No one will end the show disappointed.

“We are proud to be the first theatre in Kansas City to bring you, via on-demand video, a local production featuring Kansas City’s very own amazing actors + artisans! ‘Something Rotten!’ features two brothers who set out to write the world’s first musical in this hilarious mash-up of sixteenth-century Shakespeare and twenty-first-century Broadway,” according to The J.

“Something Rotten!” calls on the comedic and vocal talents of its cast and Tim Bair, director; and Marsha Canady, musical director; could not more talented actors for this show. The three main leads, Tom Nelson, Weston Thomas, and Fisher Stewart present superb characters to this comedy romp. Their resumes include local productions, several with Theatre in the Park. None are unknown to local audiences. “Something Rotten!” allows them to flaunt their strong singing voices, their comedic timing, their tapping skills, and their understanding of what makes their characters memorable. This trio delivers a dynamic caravan of talent.
“Something Rotten!” can be streamed on-demand to your computer or a smart TV.

Jewish Community Center/Something Rotten!/Ryan Bruce

As for the supporting cast, again, casting reigned supreme. Krista Eyler as Bea perfectly matches Nelson as his adoring wife who wants to help the struggling playwright–even at a time when women were forbidden from working. Her timing, delivery, and vocal dynamics all fit the comedy and help create a strong character.

Matt Fowler as Nostradamus gives his funniest characterization to date. As the soothsayer and clairvoyant his future vision provide a blurry picture of a future reality. His misunderstood predictions push the absurdity of the piece.

Ron Meyer as Brother Jeremiah a Puritan who helps explain why the group had to flee to America. His misunderstanding of sexual desires could not be more fun than his delivery and facial expression. Meyer is outstanding, along with the rest.

As the producer of the beleaguered Nick Bottom’s producer, Shylock, Keith Wiedenkeller pops in and out of the action throughout. His character pushes the show’s development with his agreement with Bottom to produce a money-making show.

Last, but not least, a powerhouse comedic talent comes in a tiny package. Emily Vargo is an innocent M-80 awaiting a matchlight to explode. Her diminutive stature contrasts perfectly with the lanky Weston Thomas. The short verses tall pairing, alone, brings laughs. Her comedic timing pairs well with her powerhouse voice to give Portia a chance to steal any scene. Be careful not to laugh too much at this Puritan misfit.

Jewish Community Center/Something Rotten!/Ryan Bruce

Overall, “Something Rotten!” provides somethings we have all missed–theatre, musical comedy, belly laughs, absurd storyline, and characters not soon forgotten. “Something Rotten!” invites the audience to laugh at Shakespeare, laugh at the nods throughout the show of Broadway blockbusters, and escape to a world of fun and games for two hours.

Do not miss this streamed show. “Something Rotten!” is fresh, uncomplicated, frilly, fun, and will remind you of the enjoyment silliness can provide. The script is smart. The characters are funny and unique. The elements of comedy lift the show to stellar proportions.

The show can be viewed from February 13 – March 21, with tickets purchased online starting from $18.

“SOMETHING ROTTEN!” at The White Theatre
Jewish Community Center of Kansas Cit

PRODUCTION STAFF
Directed by Tim Bair
Music Direction by Marsha Canaday
Choreography by Liz Ernst
Scenic Design by Kelli Harrod
Lighting Design by Justin Dudzik
Costume Design by Arwen White
Properties Design by Jeremy Smith
Sound Design by Jon Robertson
Stage Manager – Megan Segars
Safety Officer – Betsy Wendorff
Assistant Stage Managers – Kelsey Gallagher, Betsy Wendorff
Wardrobe Manager – Erin Ray
Audio Assistant – Hannah Zimmermann
Follow-spot Operators – Chris Greenfield, Justen Willhite
Electricians – Chris Greenfield, Maddie Lugenbeel Wright, Jayson Chandley, Kelsey Gallagher
Stage Crew – Tanner Kelley

CAST

Jewish Community Center/Something Rotten!/Ryan Bruce

Minstrel/Lord Clapham/Master of the Justice – Raheem Fielder-Bey
Nick Bottom – Tom Nelson
Nigel Bottom – Weston Thomas
Shakespeare – Fisher Stewart
Nostradamus – Matt Fowler
Bea – Krista Eyler
Portia – Emily Vargo
Brother Jeremiah – Ron Meyer
Shylock – Keith Wiedenkeller
FEMALE ENSEMBLE
Cally Beckman

Jewish Community Center/Something Rotten!/Ryan Bruce

Karen Blackmon
Ashton Botts
Brittnee Hill
Jenell Johnson
Abigail Knepper
MALE ENSEMBLE
Maddox Bane
Conner Bush
Jacob Jackson
Hewleek McKoy
Ryan Russell
Jackson Tomlin

Jewish Community Center/Something Rotten!/Ryan Bruce

THE WHITE THEATRE
Producer – Scott Slabotsky
Director of Arts + Culture/Managing Director – Keith Wiedenkeller
Technical Director – Justin Dudzik
Production Stage Manager – Megan Segars
Master Carpenter/Shop Foreman – Tanner Kelly
Box Office Manager – Liz Smith
Public Relations/Marketing – Kathleen Cuddy / Kandice Gerdes
House Manager – Paul Adkins
Director of Photography/Video Editor – Ryan Bruce




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