There is nothing rotten about SOMETHING ROTTEN! Playing now at San Jose’s Center for Performing Arts. I love musicals, slapstick comedy and I am a pretty big fan of Shakespeare. As such, I guess it should not have surprised me that a Shakespearian musical comedy would be right up my alley.
Before the show even begins, I am giggling. This is not your ordinary “please silence your cell phones” announcement. The audience is reminded that the year is 1595, and cell phones have not yet been invented. Any mysterious ringing must be witchcraft and patrons will be tried accordingly.
SOMETHING ROTTEN! is the hilarious tale of the Bottom brothers, Nigel and Nick, Renaissance era playwrights competing for top billing against the man who practically invented the English language…THEBard himself, William Shakespeare. The financial pressures mount to come up with a winning play. It the brothers cannot produce something good in a matter of days, they will lose their patron and with it the livelihood and any potential future as playwrights.
Despite his best efforts, Nick is never able to come up with a play that holds a candle to anything Shakespeare does. “God I hate Shakespeare” sings Nick, much to the shock of Nick and their acting troupe, all of whom adore the Bard and secretly dream of being part of his world.
Struggling with both his loathing of and his quest to be like Shakespeare, Nick risks his life’s savings and pays the local soothsayer, Thomas Nostradamus (a lively and animated Greg Kalafatas) to predict what the future has in store.
Thomas Nostradamus is not THE Nostradamus, but is his nephew…and such his ability to see the future may not be quite as strong, but he does see something. The future is apparently: MUSICALS! “What’s a Musical?” ask Nick, and so beings the greatest number in the show. Singing, dancing, puns, poking fun and the genre and references to almost every musical ever made. It’s decadent, frenetic, totally over the top and definitely fun.
While Nick is off scheming to figure out how to beat Shakespeare at his own game, Nigel has fallen for a girl and run off to bask in the glory of the Bard. Enter THE Bard, the man who put the “I am” in iambic pentameter, the Will of the people, William Shakespeare himself. He is supposed to be a villain, but there is something so irresistibly charming about him. He is the Renaissance era bona fide rock star status and the swagger of Billy Idol. I guess I really do like the bad boy types because despite his cheating, plagiarism and general arrogance, I can’t help but like him.
Armed with what he believes is a vision of Shakespear’s greatest play, Nick returns to Nigel and the acting troupe to get to work on the first musical, but there he just can’t seem to get them to rally around the idea. Despite the absurdity of Nostradamus’ vision of a musical about an omelet, Nick is convinced that this is the show that will put the Bottom brothers on top.
The resulting musical, OMLETTE is perhaps one of the most ridiculous musical numbers to ever hit the stage. It is so bad it’s good. Dancing eggs, frying pans and more egg puns than you can shake a whisk at.
SOMETHING ROTTEN! embraces all that is silly about musical theater and guarantees a night of indulgent laughter and fun. Whether you be a lover of musicals, a lover of Shakespear or a lovers of brunch, SOMETHING ROTTEN! has something for everyone.
SOMETHING ROTTEN! Presented by Broadway San Jose and is playing now through February 3rd. Tickets are available at priced from $48 – $178 at www.broadwaysanjose.com or at the box office located at the Center for Performing Arts (255 Almaden Blvd.) or by calling 800-982-ARTS (2787).