Saturday, July 15, 2017

Review of Something Rotten (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Something Rotten!. The book was by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell. The music and lyrics were by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick. It was directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw. It was about a man named Nick Bottom (Rob McClure) and he was a writer in the Renaissance who wants to create a play that is better than Shakespeare (Adam Pascal). So he asks a fortune teller, Nostradamus (Blake Hammond), what Shakespeare's next big play would be and also what the next new type of play would be. Nostradamus sees into the future and finds out that the next big thing will be called musicals, so Nick decides to make Omelette: The Musical!, which is the poor man's Hamlet--literally because Nick is out of money. And instead of spending the money he has left on food for his wife, Bea (Maggie Lakis), and brother, Nigel (Josh Grisetti), he goes and spends it on fortune tellers. Nigel falls in love with Portia (Autumn Hurlbert), the daughter of Puritan preacher Brother Jeremiah (Scott Cote). As you can imagine, hilarity ensues. I think this is a super fun show. It was a blast to be at and it was super fun recognizing all of the references to Shakespeare plays and musicals, which are two of my favorite things.

Nick Bottom really seemed to hate Shakespeare. He even sang a song--with a reprise!--about how much he hated him, with the very original title, "God, I Hate Shakespeare." He was saying how much he hated Shakespeare and everyone else in his theater troupe--Francis Flute (Patrick John Moran), Peter Quince (Con O'Shea-Creal), Tom Snout (Kyle Nicholas Anderson), Yorick (Daniel Beeman), Robin (Pierce Cassedy), Snug (Nick Rashad Burroughs)--and Nigel were horrified about how he could hate Shakespeare. Shakespeare is a superstar and Nick feels jealous because now that Shakespeare left their group, he is super famous. One of my favorite lines from this song was when Nick was talking about what people were like when Shakespeare walked into a room: "And they’re all “Oooh!” and he’s all “Stop” and they’re all “Yay” and I’m all “Blech.” It was so relatable because when you feel jealous you start not making quite as much sense and wishing people would shut up about how great the other person is. I really liked the song, "Hard to Be the Bard" which shows Shakespeare's perspective. It was funny and conceited at the same time. It showed how hard it was for Shakespeare to write anymore because it easier to be famous and the actual work is hard. And then he eventually breaks down in front of people because he didn't know they were there, but when he realizes it, he tries to cover it up and act like he hadn't done anything. The song was a really funny mix between David Bowie and someone conceited. My favorite lines were: "You're not even close, you remember that dammit, your play's gotta be in iambic pentameter! So you write down a word but it's not the right word, so you try a new word, but you hate the new word, and you need a good word, but you can't find the word." This was so relatable to me when writing reviews because sometimes you can't find the word and it's really's hard (it's hard).

There was a song called "A Musical" that was just full of musical references which I appreciated for my nerdy self. Nostradamus is singing about how a musical is what they'll need to put the Bottom Brothers' theater company on the top. They referenced everything from Seussical to Rent. I loved the reference to A Chorus Line at the end where they all held up their "headsketches" in front of their faces. There was reference to Les Mis about how there is no talking and how they sing everything very slowly and stay on one note for a very long time so when they change you notice. (Imagine I just sang all that.) And Annie was probably the most obvious one; they literally got out buckets and started scrubbing the floor. It was hilarious to see people from the Renaissance scrubbing the floor and singing "It's a Hard Knock Life." It was so much fun to watch because everyone in the room was connecting over these references. It was just hilarious.

A lot of times in my reviews I write a paragraph about all my favorite funny moments. But this whole review is full of funny moments because the whole show is pretty comedic. So I'm just going to talk about funny moments that weren't in the last two paragraphs! One of my favorite characters was Brother Jeremiah. He was not very keen on his daughter Portia's relationship with Nigel because Nigel was a poet who wrote about love--because that is what poetry was in the Renaissance. Jeremiah was very funny because he was saying that he was against all of these "sinful" things and then he would accidentally make innuendos or show how he really felt about those things. It was so hilarious how he said "Come on, boys!" after every time he hinted but tried to cover up that he was gay. Omelette: The Musical! was so so hilarious. It was basically a musical about breakfast and every single musical ever and Hamlet. One of my favorite moments from this musical was when one of the eggs was still on stage and just popped out, seemingly innocent, and started belting "And I am Telling You" from Dreamgirls. It was so hilarious and perfectly timed that I needed to talk about it. It made me laugh so much.

People who would like this show are people who like musical references, belting eggs, and how hard it is to be the bard. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is so much fun to watch and especially fun for big Shakespeare and musical nerds. I loved it!

Photos: Jeremy Daniel

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