Entertainment » Theatre

Something Rotten!

by Dale Reynolds
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Dec 4, 2017
Blake Hammond and Rob McClure
Blake Hammond and Rob McClure  

Broadway's 2016 hit, "Something Rotten!" is a silly, highly enjoyable mess of a show. Dealing, as it supposedly does, with how the American Musical was born, helped along, they tell us, by William Shakespeare, who also does yeoman's work on the King James' version of the Christian Bible.

Perfectly reasonable storytelling unless you happen to know the full facts (such as they are) about the Bard and who he was and for what he's famous. Playwrights Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell have concocted a lowbrow, hysterically-funny at times, play with songs, patter, and dance which incorporates a lot of well-known Shakespearean lines, making the audience weak with glee.

It's hard to overpraise, or even condemn, such material. You either pays the fee and enjoys it for what it be -- Entertainment! -- or you wander out in a gloom for having wasted the price of admission, parking, driving and whatever else it cost in total.

Trust me, it's worth it all.

In the book, brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom (Rob McClure and Josh Gresetti) own a failing theater company in the first decade of the 17th Century. (Note that Nick Bottom is the fool with the ass' head in "Midsummer Night's Dream" -- Shakespeare's revenge for the ribbing he takes from them here?)

Both brothers are jealous that a former actor of their company, Mr. William Shakespeare himself (Adam Pascal), is now famous as a playwright. So, Nick in a delusional moment, pays a soothsayer to predict what new play will increase S's fame, so the Bottoms' can rip it off and make money/fame for themselves.

Dumb sitcom behavior, unless it works, which it does, sorta, here. So, goofy, anyone? Yeah, but it spins out a fine plot, with gobs of great musical numbers (the brothers Kirkpatrick, Karey and Wayne), choreographed and directed with gifted ease by Casey Nicholaw), tongue-in-cheek firmly in place as they declare the origins of the American Musical (not until the 1920s, but, hey! what the hell?!, all in the name of great theater! Doncha agree?).

The large set, London's theater district south of the river Thames, is boldly backdropped, with sets swinging open and shut, hundreds (okay, a dozen) properly dressed singer/dancers making free with the fun, and the kind of singing one expects from so bold an endeavor. McClure, Grisetti, and Pascal are the kind of stars you always want to see, well supported by the Company.

This is truly a theatergoer, or theater aficionado, or a theater player's wet dream come true. A big, brash, funny, idiotic, glorious paean to our history's great achievements in theater. Bliss, indeed!

"Something Rotten" plays through December 31 at the L.A. Music Center's Ahmanson Theatre, Temple @ Grand Avenue. Downtown Los Angeles. For tickets and information, call 213-972-4444 or visit centertheatregroup.org

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