True Musical Comedy Fans Will Have A Field Day With “Something Rotten” At The Fox

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Rob McClure as Nick and Adam Pascal as Shakespeare battle it out for supremacy in “Something Rotten” at the Fox Theatre.

Everyone will enjoy the sharp wit, the wonderful music and over the top choreography of the Broadway hit, “Something Rotten,” currently playing at the Fox Theatre. But true-blue fans of musical comedy will be rolling in the aisles at the subtle and overt jokes in both the dialogue and music in this uproarious comedy that tackles the invention of musical comedy during the age of Shakespeare.

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Maggie Lakis and Rob McClure in the Fox production of “Something Rotten.”

Nick Bottom writes plays for a living and most of them are pretty good. But he’s writing them in 1500’s London and trying to compete with the literal rock star of the theatre of the time, William Shakespeare. He travels to a soothsayer to see if he can discover a new and fresh idea that would sway the adoring fans of the Bard into his camp. The predictions of the seer are pretty good as he predicts the coming of the musical comedy as foreshadowed in a broad, brassy and bold musical number called “A Musical.” Not only does he predict the medium, he even is able to forsee actual plot lines and characters from today’s modern musicals.

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Autumn Hurlbert as Portia and Josh Grisetti as Nigel in “Something Rotten” at the Fox Theatre.

As if this weren’t silly enough, Nick and his collaborating brother, Nigel (who writes prose so well that Shakespeare is actually jealous enough of him to steal his manuscripts), decide to write a musical based on another of the soothsayer’s slightly foggy vision- “Omelette, The Musical.” But, to steal one of Nigel’s better lines (now attributed to Shakespeare) “all’s well that ends well” and a typical musical comedy ending blends with a not-so-typical musical comedy to make “Something Rotten” a delight from start to finish.

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Rob McClure as Nick and Blake Hammond as Thomas Nostradamus in the finale of “A Musical” during the Fox Theatre production of “Something Rotten.”

Muny favorite, Rob McClure is the energetic Nick. From his “God, I Hate Shakespeare” number through his competition patter song with the Bard to the production number- “Make An Omelette”- which features another series of modern musical comedies paraded before their time, he is a charming bundle of musical comedy genius. Nigel, his brother, is given an equally adept- though slightly shyer- portrayal by the talented Josh Grisetti. The man himself, Will Shakespeare, gets the modern day rock god treatment as Broadway veteran, Adam Pascal delights in his tight fitting leggings and silver lame and anachronistic collar ruffles- not to mention his rather “noticeable” codpiece.

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Scott Cote as Brother Jeremiah and Rob McClure as Nick in “Something Rotten” at the Fox Theatre.

The long-suffering wife of Nick, Bea, is the lovely Mrs. McClure, Maggie Lakis and the love of Nigel’s life, Portia- daughter of a Puritan ramrod- is the quintessential, talented musical comedy female side kick, Autumn Hurlbert. Her sanctimonious father, Brother Jeremiah, is a marvelous Scott Cote who takes the hilarious step out of the closet during the raucous “We See The Light” number in the second act.

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Nick (Rob McClure) gets advice from Shylock (Jeff Brooks) during the Fox presentation of “Something Rotten.”

The portly yet nimble soothsayer, Thomas Nostradamus (nephew to the other one), is the outstanding Blake Hammond who goes step for step with the chorus of dancers. Shylock, a Jewish moneylender (you’ll notice how Shakespeare honed a lot of his plot and characters), is played by the wickedly world-wise Jeff Brooks.

This madness was created by brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick who wrote the music and lyrics and the book was developed by Karey and John O’Farrell. Director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw ran with the concept and turned it into a true masterpiece of a musical comedy. Scott Pask’s scene design is effective and clever and the lights of Jeff Crotter add just the right touch. The Gregg Barnes costume design is truly inspired and the musical direction of Brian P. Kennedy is perfection.

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Adam Pascal as Shakespeare is greeted by his adoring fans in “Something Rotten” at the Fox Theatre.

“Something Rotten” is a musical that is thoroughly enjoyable the first time around but the real musical comedy fan will have to see it multiple times to catch the rapid fire references to musicals of the past decades as well as current ones. The sly innuendo, the outright obvious references (such as the “A Chorus Line” resume photos) and the incessant barrage of tributes to maybe hundreds of shows past is incredible through both dialogue, lyrics and actions. “Something Rotten” plays at the Fox Theatre through February 19th. Do not miss this one.

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