"Something Rotten" comes to Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center for the Performing Arts beginning Tuesday. A mix of "The Book of Mormon" with shades of Mel Brooks' "The Producers," the ten-time Tony-Award nominated musical is on tour with three of the show's Broadway cast in the lead roles: Rob McClure as Nick Bottom, Josh Crisetti as Nigel Bottom, and Adam Pascal as Shakespeare.
Shakespeare? Yep. The musical tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel, two playwrights who are in the shadow of the rock star of the Renaissance, The Bard himself.
When a Nostradamus type soothsayer foretells the next big thing in theater involves singing, dancing, and acting at the same time – (sounds like a musical, no?), the two playwrights set out to incorporate the triple threat into one show.
Pascal is probably the biggest draw in name recognition in the touring cast. He was nominated for a Tony when he originated the role of the Roger, the former band guy now HIV-positive brooder in "Rent," in 1996. He was also in the film version of the Broadway-show-turned-movie. He also appeared with Jack Black in "The School of Rock," besides being the original Radames in Broadway’s "Aida," and starring as the Emcee in Roundabout’s Broadway production of "Cabaret." His most recent Broadway stint was as Chad in Broadway’s "Disaster!" Another fun fact, he and his wife, Cybele, co-own the gluten and allergen-free company Cybele’s Free to Eat.
Casey Nicholaw directed and choreographed the musical, following his success with "The Book of Mormon" and "Aladdin." The book was written by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, and Grammy Award winner Wayne Kirkpatrick wrote the music and lyrics.
The Shakespeare character in "Rotten" has been a choice role for the actors who have played him, including Christian Borle who won a Tony Award for the character. Karey Kirkpatrick isn't surprised the character has garnered lots of attention in the Broadway world.
"We were like, Shakespeare coming off of 'Romeo and Juliet' must have been like the
Elvis of his day. And we thought it
would be funny if Shakespeare did his sonnets, and it’s like a Beatles’
concert, and there’s a call and response. He’s doing his greatest hits, and all
these people are sharing that. And it’d be like a rock concert. We always
thought he’d be a cross between Austin Powers and Freddie Mercury," says Karey.
The show is packed full of fun references, but the most jammed is the showstopping number, "A Musical," that is stuffed to the gills with musical references, 19 musicals are alluded to, in fact: "Avenue Q," "The Fantasticks," "Les Miserables," "Fascinating Rhythm," "The Music Man," "Seussical," "South Pacific," "Chicago," "Evita," "Rent," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Putting It Together," "Annie," "Guys and Dolls," "Sweet Charity," "Hello Dolly," and "A Chorus Line," "Cats," and "Sweeney Todd."
But is the show too inside baseball? Or, should I say, too inside Broadway? The authors don't think so.
"If it works as a musical for people who don’t know musicals or Shakespeare, then I’m happy. It’s about show business and putting on a show. Just doing that in Tudor times gives it an extra spin. The show does work on many levels, but the main level it works on, I hope, is that it’s just a great fun night out," says O'Farrell, who co-wrote the book with Karey Kirkpatrick.
Wayne Kirkpatrick, who wrote the music and lyrics concurs:
"We were conscious of not wanting to be so inside that
you could only get it if you had seen the most obscure musicals. We really went
broad, purposely. Not only with the musicals that inspired us but also musicals
people would know even if they hadn’t seen them. So you reference 'The Sound of Music,' 'Music Man' or 'Oklahoma!', which are shows that a lot of people
would know because they’ve seen the movie. The same with the Shakespeare stuff. Everybody knows some
Shakespeare lines. There are a lot of what we refer to as his hits, lines that
everybody is going to know."
The show is at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts through April 2.
"Something Rotten" opens March 21 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Avenue, Ft Lauderdale, FL, 33312. For ticket info, visit www.browardcenter.org; by phone 954.462.0222