It’s fun. It’s bawdy, breathless, and brilliant. It’s Cape Rep’s regional première of Something Rotten! and you really do need to go see it. At a time when the days are getting shorter and the cold is starting to set in, it will lighten your mood and warm your heart.
And it’s a lot of fun.
Rock-star-and-he-knows-it Shakespeare (Owain Rhys Davies, who is brilliant at being bad) is stealing all the audiences with his great ideas for plays, and brothers Nick (Lukas Poost, in one of the funniest tours de force I’ve seen) and Nigel (John Dudley) Bottom are at their wits’ end and about to lose their only financial backer. Each takes a different route to solving the problem: Nigel writes beautiful verses that have the added advantage of attracting the attention of Portia (Ashlyn Inman), while Nick consults soothsayer Nostradamus (Jared Hagan) so he can beat Shakespeare to the next big thing.
And that next big thing? Musicals!
If you know and enjoy musicals, you’ll be especially in the know for this performance, as it’s studded with parodies (or perhaps homages) of everything from Cats to Annie to The Music Man. The opening number, Welcome to the Renaissance, sets the tone of exuberance and over-the-top humor with perfectly timed choreography and enthusiastic vocals (especially from the Minstrel, played by Donté Wilder), while Rhys Davies moans and whines his way through It’s Hard to be the Bard and Nick’s wife Bea (Trish LaRose) joins Nick for Right Hand Man. The songs are great, the performances spot-on, and the whole production is a delight.
(And if musicals aren’t your thing, then watch for the bits and pieces of Shakespeare’s repertoire dropped in from time to time. They’re equally fun to identify.)
Nostradamus (Thomas, that is, the nephew of the other one) isn’t always quite right: Shakespeare’s finest work ever, he predicts, will be a play called Omelette. Nick takes the prediction and runs with it, to the great distress of his brother and wife—and to Shakespeare’s great amusement. But what goes around definitely comes around, and the ending is perfect.
The cast—including ensemble players Lindsey Erin Agnes, LeVane Harrington, Elizabeth McGuire, Alex John Johnson, Samantha Ross, Cape Rep favorite Anthony Teixeira—shows what a musical can look like when everyone is delivering their very best: Cape Rep’s production is absolutely top-notch and surprisingly joyful. Kudos to director Stephen Sposito, who clearly knows how to get the most out of a play, and to all the production staff for work that’s at the same level as the performances.
With a memorable score and hilarious script, top-notch choreography and music, and acting that goes well beyond the surface of characters’ emotions and motivations, Something Rotten! is definitely not to be missed.
images: Bob Tucker/Focalpoint