There’s Nothing Rotten About ‘Something Rotten!’

Syd Pierre, staff writer

‘Something Rotten!’ the musical is an entertaining show crammed full of references to both musical theatre and Shakespearean. ‘Rotten’ was nominated for and won numerous Tony and Drama Desk awards, including Best Featured Actor and Outstanding Featured Actor. Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick fill the show with catchy, occasionally raunchy lyrics, and energetic dance numbers. Gregg Barnes’ brightly designed costumes enhance the liveliness of the show and add a more modern touch to 15th century fashion. Opening on Broadway in the spring of 2015, “Rotten” began its U.S. tour in January 2017 and plays at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis from April 3 to 8.

Set in the late 1500’s, the plot follows two brothers, Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel (Josh Grisetti) Bottom, as they write their next play. Overshadowed by none other than William Shakespeare (Daniel Beerman) — who is affectionately nicknamed “the Bard” by his adoring fans — the brothers struggle to find inspiration for their next show. Under pressure and annoyed by his brother’s relentless positivity, Nick turns to a local soothsayer (Blake Hammond) for help. Upon the prediction that the next theater hit will be (of course) a musical, ‘Rotten’ transforms into a show filled with ironic cliches, musical theater and Shakespearean references, romance, and oddly enough, dancing eggs.

‘Rotten’ plays off of classic musical themes and techniques; the romantic scenes are smothered in pink lighting, the plot is more predictable than a Nancy Drew novel, and simple rhymes are scattered throughout the lyrics. Overarching themes such as self-proclaimed ‘star crossed lovers,’ staying true to your heart, and following your dreams are strewn throughout the show, as if a fairy tale threw up all over the script. The target audience for ‘Rotten’ is hard to diagnose; the amount of double-entendres make it unsuitable for young children, yet the show seems too childish for adults. Nonetheless, the show is entertaining and enjoyable for frequent theater goers, the kind of crowd that won’t shy away from a good tap dance number and well recognized echoes from musical classics, including  ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘Cats,’ and ‘Wicked.’

While the show’s plot is somewhat lacking, the cast stood out in their roles. Josh Grisetti as the rock-steady, persistent Nigel added the right touch of humor to his numbers, such as “Bottom’s Gonna Be on Top.” Rob McClure was admirable as the endearing Nick and his chemistry with his love interest, Portia, shone in “I Love the Way.” Autumn Hurlbert brought spunk to the slightly rebellious Portia, and it was fun to watch her character grow over the course of the show. Daniel Beerman nailed the role of Shakespeare, iambic pentameter and all, and adeptly belted “Hard to Be the Bard.”

‘Something Rotten!’ is a fun filled, entertaining and toe-tapping musical with a little bit for everyone, although the content may not be appropriate for younger audiences. A strong cast and plenty of humor, albeit somewhat sophomoric, tie the show together, and make for an entertaining show.