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Something Rotten! Hits the Stage

Production image by Joan Marcus

Shakespeare is everything Nick Bottom (the main character in “Something Rotten!”) wants to be: rich, popular, and a famous playwright. But how can he step out of the Bard’s shadow and into the spotlight? Watch and see as “Something Rotten!” appears at the Buell Theater on its way around the country!

“Something Rotten!” is a Broadway musical set in Elizabethan London, where Nick and Nigel Bottom are struggling to make a living off of writing plays. Desperate for an idea, Nick goes to a soothsayer who reveals the next big thing: musicals! Further help from the soothsayer turns their new play into a hectic mash-up of musical elements from many beloved Broadway shows, including A Chorus Line, West Side Story, and many more.

The eclectic nature of the show leads to an opening for a multitude of jokes to rain down on the audience. A knowledge of most Broadway musicals and Shakespeare will give you insight into a completely different level of the show. For instance, the title itself pays homage to the line “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” However, even if you aren’t a musical theater aficionado or an avid Shakespeare fan, there is still a plethora of jokes to keep you laughing the entire time.

The vividly colored costumes appear extremely accurate, except for a few deviations from the Elizabethan style for artistic purposes. For example, Shakespeare’s attire looks not unlike those of a modern rockstar, including leather jackets and a spiked shirt collar. The set designs are brilliant, with Shakespeare’s theater in the round also serving a multitude of other purposes, such as a rehearsal room and the interior of Nick Bottom’s house. The flat painted drop down screens are exquisite, showing great care and detail. Overall, the design and detail of the show is impressive. The phenomenal acting is no less than one might expect from Broadway, with actors who cross the line between playing and being their character.

“Something Rotten!” runs at the Buell Theater from October 17-29, with an ASL interpreted, audio described, and open captioned performance on October 29. It is suitable for children 13 and up, due to mild swearing and extremely subtle mature content that more likely than not will go over the heads of the younger audiences. From the captivating actors to the genius design and script, this is a performance well worth seeing.