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Review | ‘Something Rotten!’ makes for show-stopping crude fun

The national tour of the musical "Something Rotten!" Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

By Madison Hayden

duPont Manual High School, Class of 2021

Set in the 1580s in Renaissance England, when being a popular playwright was like having millions of Instagram followers, “Something Rotten!” tells the story of the Bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel. The best-friend brothers are trying to keep their local acting company from falling into ruins and make it out of the shadows of the notorious William Shakespeare (Matthew Baker). “Something Rotten!” by Stephen Gabriel opened Tuesday at Kentucky Center and is a deep, belly-chuckle kind of Broadway performance.

But somehow, like an overstuffed omelet, “Something Rotten!” still offers some insatiable satisfaction amid the codpiece-overrun stage and Black Death-infested Europe. The score has an excellent opening number (“Welcome to the Renaissance”) and a literal first-act showstopper in “A Musical,” with music and lyrics by brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick.

There’s also a nod to feminism with Nick’s girl-empowerment-driven wife Bea (Emily Kristen Morris), who sees nothing wrong with breaking societal gender stereotypes and working outside the home. “It’s the ’90s,” she tells him. “There’s a woman on the throne.”

Along with the topic of sexism and women’s rights, “Something Rotten!” hits hard on several controversial and modern-day problems. Slices of homosexuality, religious intolerance, drugs and drinking are all present in the play, of course in a joking manner.

The musical is not something for all family members to attend. Sensitive subjects such as masturbation, erections and penises and inappropriate words all make some sort of appearance in the show. So, be forewarned in case you bought tickets for the little ones. Overall, depending on your child’s maturity and exposure to these topics, I would suggest taking people 16-plus.

In “Something Rotten!”, the use of space on stage provides a real-life visualization of one of the most creative times in history. Several layers of backdrops work to portray the time period and societal factors very well. The costumes provide a 360-degree range of cultural experience: from codpieces, leather boots and ruffs, every aspect is spot on.

It is hard to keep from singing along to the music scores (I heard several audience members who couldn’t refrain from singing or humming). The actors portray their characters' personas spectacularly. The lights sync with the music to provide emphasis when necessary. The backdrops and props throw you all the way into the medieval experience. If you’re looking for a good time — oh, that ole thing — there’s plenty, from top to bottom.



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