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‘Something Rotten!’ is definitely not that

October 10, 2018

Shakespeare (Matthew Baker) basks in the adoration of the masses in “Something Rotten!”

You don’t need to be a Shakespeare scholar or a musical theater devotee to enjoy Something Rotten!, the first production of Overture Center for the Arts’ Broadway Across America season of traveling musicals. But being either or both does help. A lot.

The show, which takes place during the English Renaissance in the wake of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet opening night, is rich with allusions to the Bard as well as references to musical theater. The more of those references you recognize, it seemed from the audience’s response, the more fun you’re going to have. The show is hysterically funny.

Specifically, the story centers on theatrical producer Nick Bottom (Matthew Michael Janisse) and his younger brother Nigel (Richard Spitaletta), who is a poet writing in the style of Shakespeare’s sonnets. However, the pair has achieved nowhere near the fan base of Shakespeare (a hysterical Matthew Baker), who is treated like the rock star of the age. The question for the Bottom brothers is how to follow Shakespeare’s act?

Nick takes all the money he and his wife Bea (Emily Kristen Morris) have saved for a cottage in the country and hires the nephew of the visionary Nostradamus named Thomas (an equally hysterical Greg Kalafatas) – yes, Thomas Nostradamus – to look into the future and foretell what would be Shakespeare’s most famous play. The slightly skewed seer comes up with Omelet.

But Thomas also predicts that the next big trend in theater will be the musical. Armed with that information, Nick and Nigel set out to create a musical version of Omelet.

You see where this is going, right?

Despite the fact that some of the humor is sophomoric and a little crude, Something Rotten! takes off at lightening speed with jokes, musical numbers and colorful characters that make the production a first class theatrical romp.

There is mass tap dancing, kick lines and a chorus of characters dressed as dancing eggs. It’s hard to believe that something basically this dumb can also be so much fun. But Something Rotten! is just that, proving to be an evening of theater well spent.

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