There's nothing as amazing as a musical
With song and dance and sweet romance
And happy ending happening by happenstance
And you'll see, it will be only the beginning
This glorious creation called a musical
How could anyone resist that?! Something Rotten! is the ultimate musical about musicals, which gloriously celebrates this truly American art form while hilariously poking fun at it (in a loving way). The miraculous thing is that it was written by two brothers with no previous experience in musical theater (but an obvious love for and knowledge of it). Screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick and songwriter Wayne Kirkpatrick collaborated (with some help from John O'Farrell) to create this charming story of two brothers who wrote the world's first musical. One wonders how much of the show is art imitating life as the Bottom brothers struggle to write a hit. But whatever struggles the Kirkpatrick brothers went through, it paid off; they have succeeded in writing a "must see magical new original musical," something that's in short supply in the days of jukebox musicals and movie adaptations. If you love musicals (or love to hate them), make your way through the April snow to downtown Minneapolis to enjoy this super fun and fantastic show.
|the family unit: brothers Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel|
(Josh Grisetti) with Bea (Maggie Lakis, photo by Jeremy Daniel)
I first saw Something Rotten! on Broadway on the same day that I saw Hamilton for the first time. The experience of Hamilton was so overwhelming that I didn't appreciate Something Rotten! as much as it deserved. I only started listening to the cast recording in the last few weeks, when I remembered just how clever this show truly is. The bright and cartoonish (including colorful costumes and 2-D set pieces) 16th Century tale is full of charming anachronisms and too many musical theater references to count. The song "A Musical" ingeniously describes the silly wonder of musicals ("So an actor is saying his lines and then out of nowhere he just starts singing? Well that is the [starts singing] stupidest thing that I have ever heard.") while including musical references to what feels like dozens of shows, from RENT ("some musicals are very serious") to South Pacific to Chicago to A Chorus Line and much more. The second act performance of the musical-within-a-musical Omelette includes lines, characters, and plots points from dozens more musicals, and part of the fun of this show is trying to catch and identify them all.
|"Welcome to the Renaissance!" (photo by Jeremy Daniel)|
And I can't say enough good things about the lead and featured actors, starting with Rob McClure as our hero (or anti-hero) Nick Bottom. He's so charming and funny, making the most of every little moment, that you can't help but root for Nick even when he's stealing ideas and lying to his family. He and Josh Grisetti as the sweet adorakable Nigel have a believable brotherly relationship that presumably makes the creator brothers proud. Another thing to love about this show is that Nick's wife Bea (beautifully played by Rob's real-life wife Maggie Lakis) is a strong character who has an entire song about how she's his equal partner in life ("Right Hand Man").
|Adam Pascal: "It's Hard to be the Bard" (photo by Jeremy Daniel)|
Something Rotten! is an entirely satisfactory experience for people who love musicals. And with musicals this funny, clever, catchy, and gloriously performed, what's not to love?! Something Rotten! plays through Sunday only, when it will leave our cold Minnesota for (hopefully) greener pastures.
*Plot summary borrowed from what I wrote about the Broadway production in 2015.