Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Something Rotten!
National Tour
Review by Mark Horning | Season Schedule

Also see Mark's review of 1776


Graphic Courtesy of University of Akron, EJ Thomas Hall
They're back! That irreverent band of Renaissance revolutionaries paying tribute to (almost) every Broadway show known to man. I speak of William Shakespeare (Matthew Baker), Nick Bottom (Matthew Michael Janisse), Nigel Bottom (Richard Spitaletta), Portia (Jennifer Elizabeth Smith), Brother Jeremiah (Mark Saunders), Minstrel (Alex Eisenberg), Shylock (Peter Surace), Bea (Emily Kristen Morris), and of course Thomas Nostradamus (Greg Kalafatas), who have invaded EJ Thomas Hall in Akron, Ohio, for a brief two-show stint of Something Rotten!.

The musical originally opened at the St. James Theatre on April 22, 2015, after a month of previews. It ran for 742 performances, receiving ten Tony nominations for which it won one for Christian Borle as Best Featured Actor in a Musical. There was also a 2016 Grammy Award nomination for Best Musical Theater Album.

This is a non-Equity national tour that kicked off on September 19, 2018, in Columbus, Georgia, and is staged by Steve Bebout, who was the associate director of the original Broadway production.

It is 1595 in merry olde England and the Bottom brothers' acting troupe is in deep trouble. All their work is overshadowed by a former member of their company, William Shakespeare, who is the rock star of the Elizabethan set. They are threatened with being shut down by a group of fanatical, radical Puritans, and Shylock the local money lender wants a piece of their next production, which is against the law. Although Nick Bottom handles the production side of the company it is his brother Nigel who is the writer of sweet sonnets that somehow manage to end up in the plays of Shakespeare, who himself is suffering from writer's block. Nigel falls madly in love with Portia, who is the daughter of Brother Jeremiah, the leader of the Puritans.

When Nick's wife Bea goes out to seek work, Nick desperately seeks the services of soothsayer, Thomas Nostradamus, in order to learn what Shakespeare's next big hit will be. Going in and out of a brief trance Thomas predicts "Omelette ... ham ...Danish" and declares that the really next big thing is "musicals"! From these mutterings Nick is convinced to put together a new show called Omelette, The Musical that is chock full of dozens of Broadwayish references and bits of melody as seen through the misty eyes of Thomas.

The performances of this cast are superb. From the opening number of "Welcome to the Renaissance" to the closing "Finale" and all parts in between, this show is firing on all cylinders. The comic timing is impeccable, the singing spectacular, the stage set (Scott Pask) truly functional, and costumes (Gregg Barnes) period authentic but able to change into modern Broadway dance costumes in the blink of an eye. The action is fast and furious due to the directing and choreographing of Casey Nicholaw.

If you can get a ticket to this unbounded hilarity, it is well worth seeing this production. It is laugh yourself silly funny.

Something Rotten!, through May 15, 2019, at EJ Thomas Hall, 198 Hill Street, Akron OH. For tickets and information, visit www.secureboxoffice.com or call 303-972-7111. For more information on the tour, visit www.rottenbroadway.com.


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