“WHO ON EARTH IS GOING TO SIT THERE WHILE ACTORS BREAK INTO SONG” “BECAUSE IT’S A MUSICAL AND NOTHING’S AS AMAZING AS A MUSICAL”
The Bard takes center stage this winter at Broadway San Jose. The polished hit SOMETHING ROTTEN is bringing huge smiles to Bay Area audiences only through February 3rd as part of BSJ Best of Broadway current season. The smart and hilarious "Something Rotten!" debuted on Broadway in 2015 and the musical was nominated for nine Tony Awards winning a statue for Christian Borle, who played William Shakespeare adding a Mick Jagger like swagger to the theatre icon and ran on Broadway for 742 performances at the St James Theatre.
The hit creative team of “ROTTEN” includes book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell with music from Kirkpatrick and his Nashville songwriter brother, Wayne. The producers have assembled a superb cast who give each lead the perfect shtick. The marvelous Matthew Michael Janisse as Nick, Richard Spitaletta as Nigel, Matthew Baker as Will, and Greg Kalafatas as the vast Nostradamus. The smashing Emily Kristen Morris as Bea and Jennifer Elizabeth Smith as Portia. The hits are one after another during the first act as the story flies by including the show stopping “A Musical” more like a jukebox time bomb.
SOMETHING ROTTEN tells the story of two brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, playwrights, who want to produce hit plays that rival Shakespeare's. “God I hate Shakespeare” opens the first act setting the mood that the Bard is our Villain. In order to produce a sure hit, Nick visits a fortune teller played by Kalafatas who is hilarious as the dotty, misguided, Thomas Nostradamus, a psychic who shares with him what he thinks will be hits in theatre, specifically Shakespeare's next play, “Omelette” which misinterprets Hamlet. The show stopping “A Musical” features Nick and the company and mocks just about every hit musical.
The musical numbers are full throttle, from the explosive opener “Welcome to the Renaissance” featuring the powerhouse Devin Holloway as the Minstrel. The first act show stoppers are exhausting, amazing and almost prematurely brought the sold out opening night audience to their feet. “The Black Death” and “Will Power” are clever especially dealing with the “Plague” and include just about every Shakes joke ever written. Set in 1590s England, the show is full of theatre puns and glam with many references to modern day culture and inside jokes about several successful musicals.
It's a blast for people who are familiar with musicals and Shakespeare, but no need to be a Bard historian, the show is full of crazy jabs and non-stop laughs. Not much makes us think other than the opening night reference to the Nazis in “Sound of Music”. Nick asks if the Nazis are the good guys or the bad guys. Nostradamus is not sure, “but it seems important that we get that one right.” adlib or not this brought the house down.
British actor Matthew Baker selflessly lampoons the Bard, Shakespeare. Dressed in a silverlined and outrageous neck collar and a healthy cod piece Baker takes the stage as the rockstar playwright, Will, with the song “Will Power” which features him yelling out his greatest lines musically such as “Shall I compare thee…” to which the crowd finishes “to a summer’s day.” Was Shakespeare ever this much of a diva? I might guess he was and for this production with it's over-the-top shtick. “Funny” is the star of this show,
Directed and choreographed by “Book of Mormon” “Mean Girls” Casey Nicholaw, the dancing is more than eye catching featuring steps from all the classic musicals. The strength of the show is the vibrant pace and non-stop comedy in the two and a half hour romp with a stellar cast. The real bards behind this glitter of laughs are another team of brothers: Grammy-winning Nashville songwriter Wayne Kirkpatrick and “Chicken Run” screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick. The team found its fourth bard in director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw, who was part of the dream team of “Book of Mormon”. Mel Brooks and Monty Python inspired.
Other standouts are "We See The Light" in which Puritans take on a gospel tune, and "Make An Omelette," which is goofy good fun. The original creative team includes Jeff Croiter’s wow the crowd with lots of glitz and gorgeous renaissance lighting design, Josh Marquette’s garish wigs, Gregg Barnes’ swank parade of motley renn faire costumes from leather boots to overstuffed codpieces to ruffled collars. Casey Nicholaw's choreography is glam and so fun to watch. The cast is full of talented dancers who can handle many genres, including some mean tap dancing.The alley in which Nick meets Nostradamus is a highlight with its moody colors and hunchback fog lit buildings. The song "A Musical" has eye candy galore and designer Croiter’s rich textured lighting. Finally, a round of applause for Music Director Brian P Kennedy for weaving all those purloined riffs from famous musicals into the songs.
Shakespeare's hilarious strength in “Hard to Be the Bard.” opens the second act and gags bounce off the Orpheum walls as the company’s energy echoes puns throughout the theater. Like its ego diva, rock star Shakespeare, “SOMETHING ROTTEN!” just wants to have a good time. You will too, but at times the Bard schtick can get tired, it gets overused. The second act is pure fun as Shakes takes center stage as the key number “Something Rotten” with the company is sizzling. “We See The Light” with Portia (Smith) and Nigel, hits the impressive perfection with “Its Eggs”,“We See The Light” and “To Thine Own Self” all powerhouse numbers. I think Shakespeare would love this musical and I feel that anyone who visits the 15th century this winter at the SJ Center for Performing Arts will have a “Welcome to the Renaissance” and “Music be the food of love, play on!” great time.
Broadway San Jose Presents
By John O’Farrell, Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick
Directed by Casy Nicholaw
Only Through this Sunday Feb 2nd
SAN JOSE’S CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
255 S Almaden Blvd, San Jose, CA 95113
Running Time 2 hours 30 minutes one intermission
Tickets www.ticketmaster.com, in-person at the City National Civic Box Office 150 W. San Carlos St., San Jose, or by calling 800-982-ARTS (2787)
Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel
The award-winning design team of Broadway vets includes Scott Pask (scenic design), Gregg Barnes (costume design), Jeff Croiter (lighting design), Peter Hylenski (sound design), Josh Marquette (hair design), Phil Reno (music supervision), Glen Kelly (arrangements), Larry Hochman (orchestrations), Steve Bebout (associate director), Brian P. Kennedy (associate music supervision) and casting by Wojcik |Seay Casting.