Sometimes soothsayers get it right, but when they don’t, misunderstanding may lead to strange unparalleled consequences as is the case with “Something Rotten!” a hilarious musical comedy Broadway national tour playing at Kansas City’s famous Starlight Theatre for a one week run through Sunday night, July 30.
The show is a crafty and silly comedy based on the two Bottom brothers, Nigel and Nick, who happen to be Shakespeare’s contemporaries and in competition with him to produce successful plays. To accomplish the impossible, Nick Bottom seeks a soothsayer’s vision to steal Will’s best work…but the vision predicts “Omelette,” not “Hamlet.” Things can only go drastically wrong from there.
The songs, the music, the orchestration, the dance, the costumes, the lighting, the sets–all create a sumptuous look of the Renaissance. Well, the music IS a bit modern for that era, but ‘tis still fun, throughout. The show features famous or not so famous characters. Nick Bottom later turns up in Shakespeare’s comedy, playing an ass as Shakespeare’s revenge for trying to steal his famous play And then there’s Nostradamus. No, not the Nostradamus, but his nephew, Thomas Nostradamus. And, there are countless lines and names of Broadway shows woven into the clever dialogue of “Something’s Rotten!”
After mis-calculating “Omelette” the soothsayer tells Nick Bottom that the only way for real success is a Broadway musical…yes, musical. Unheard of in Renaissance time, and completely sinful for the Puritans that still resided in England before exile to America, music, dance, and theater had no place in their society. All that’s another story to be unraveled in “Something Rotten!”
The acting in “Something Rotten!” captures the audience from the first lines. The opening number wins the audience over and the first lines set the tone for the show to follow. Do not expect a mind-changing drama; this is fun and games from the onset. The super-talented cast are triple threats. They sing, act, and dance and give solidity to the production. Vocal performances stand out for all the featured soloists.
Adam Pascal, probably the most known name to appear on Starlight’s stage for the past several years gives a strong presence as William Shakespeare. He’s the focus of the Bottom brother’s envy. Pascal’s devilish and aloof-at-times Bard of Avon pleases everyone. He’s great.
Overall, “Something Rotten!” is the best show this season for Starlight. Unfortunately, the heat may keep some away. Be forewarned, missing this show is a mistake. It’s fun and original.
The only personal distraction for this reviewer was an obnoxious patron who insisted on laughing too enthusiastically and loudly at every song and show title as they were spoken so that everyone around her knew that she “got” the joke and we could marvel at her expertise and theater knowledge. Thankfully, for those not sitting near her, the outdoor vast auditorium did not have to endure her expressions of glee.
“Something Rotten!” comes with an enthusiastic recommendation. Go see this show and laugh.
Tags: Starlight Theatre, “Something Rotten”, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Performing Arts