Something Rotten! is Something Special

Something Rotten! is Something Special

Rob McClure as Nick Bottom and Leslie Kritzer as Bea (©Joan Marcus)

“Something Rotten!” is the perfect show to catch while you’re in NYC this holiday season. True, there is no direct connection to any winter holidays, but if you’re in need of a laugh and appreciate ‘90s humor (that’s 1590s, mind you…), then get thee to the St. James Theatre, post haste!

In “Something Rotten!,” bard brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a bigger hit than The Bard, Will Shakespeare. Nick and his wife Bea are strapped for cash, Nigel is smitten with a puritan girl whose father opposes their love and Shakespeare’s ego is as inflated as a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. Nick takes the last of his savings to a soothsayer, Nostradamus (nope, not that Nostradamus… his nephew, Thomas. Thomas Nostradamus.), who predicts that the future of theater lies in this newfangled thing called a “musical.” Nick decides to write one of these new musical productions based off of what is supposedly Shakespeare’s next masterpiece, “Omelette.”

This musical about musicals celebrates how silly and wonderful musicals are. Because while it is ridiculous that people break out into song to advance the plot, sometimes music is the best way to convey feelings and emotions. Audiences who actively see a musical have made the commitment to suspend disbelief and accept that spontaneous singing is par for the course.

One of the things I love most about “Something Rotten!” is how it mildly vilifies William Shakespeare and presents him as this self-indulgent rock star that grifts his greatest ideas for names and plot points from his former colleagues. At the same time, I feel for Shakespeare. His “Hard to be the Bard” song makes him more relatable and offers the opinion that the best of writers have moments of doubt too. 

Speaking of The Bard, recent cast addition Adam Pascal is delightfully wicked in the role. While he excels in dramatic musicals (“Rent”), I love seeing him in shows like this where he can showcase his vocals and spot-on comedic timing. Pascal is the perfect foil for Rob McClure, who masterfully portrays Nick Bottom’s determination to prove himself as a better bard and a good husband and brother. McClure is art in motion. The way he unabashedly uses every part of his person to earn every laugh is both admirable and appreciated. McClure doesn’t just toe the line of performing full-out, he taps over it and then leaves said line in the dust.

When watching the show, it’s easy to see how committed each and every player in this ensemble is. The dancing is amazing and songs are delivered with an enthusiasm I can only describe as contagious. My face hurt from smiling after “A Musical” and “Make an Omelette,” not only because of how fantastic these group numbers are, but because of this show constantly reminds me of how much I love musicals and why I keep coming back to the theater to see them.

You definitely don’t have to be an expert on Shakespeare to enjoy “Something Rotten!,” but you will catch some of the less obvious jokes if you are familiar with his canon of work. The physical comedy of this show and the fact that the characters are staging a musical about breakfast foods will keep you entertained, I promise.

“Something Rotten!” will close on January 1, 2017. Don’t miss out on one of the funniest new musicals to ever come to Broadway!

(“Something Rotten!” is performed at the St. James Theatre at 246 W. 44th St., bwn Seventh & Eighth aves. Tickets can be purchased here.)

Rob McClure (center) and the ensemble of "Something Rotten!" (©Joan Marcus)

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