Something Rotten! BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joan Marcus
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • HR

  • AP

  • NBC

Opening Night:
April 22, 2015
Closing:
Open Ended

Theater: St James Theatre / 246 West 44th Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

Set in the 1590s, brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rockstar known as “The Bard.” When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theater involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical. But amidst the scandalous excitement of opening night, the Bottom Brothers realize that reaching the top means being true to thine own self...and all that jazz.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Something Rotten!

    ‘Something Rotten!,’ an Over-the-Top Take on Shakespeare

    Ben Brantley

    April 22, 2015: Unchecked enthusiasm is not always an asset in musical comedy, despite the genre’s reputation for wholesale peppiness. “Something Rotten!,” the rambunctious new show that opened on Wednesday night at the St. James Theater, dances dangerously on the line between tireless and tedious, and winds up collapsing into the second camp. If that sounds exhausting, the large cast onstage betrays no signs of flagging. Clad in what are surely very heavy Elizabethan costumes, and performing what is essentially the same determined showstopper again and again, the ensemble members in this Broadway-does-the-Renaissance frolic remain as wired as Adderall-popping sophomores during exam week. “Sophomoric” is the right adjective for “Something Rotten!,” and presumably its creators wouldn’t have it any other way. Conceived by the Kirkpatrick brothers, Wayne and Karey, who wrote the score, with a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, this production wallows in the puerile puns, giggly double-entendres, lip-smacking bad taste and goofy pastiche numbers often found in college revues. All those traits, I should add, have also been in evidence in two of the most successful Broadway musicals of recent years: “The Book of Mormon” and Mel Brooks’s “The Producers.” Yet how restrained and elegant those shows seem next to “Something Rotten!,” directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, who provided the same services for “Mormon.” I never thought I’d be saying this, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the “South Park” collaborators who came up with “Mormon”) and Mr. Brooks turn out to be masters of the art of knowing when to stop.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Something Rotten!

    'Something Rotten!' Theater review

    David Cote

    April 22, 2015: Do you fondly remember that "Taming of the Shrew" episode from "Moonlighting," back in 1986? Whenever blue, do you stream "Shakespeare in Love" for succor? Are you a fierce partisan for "Blackadder II?" Elizabethan fops and wenches forming a stagewide kick line cause a little flutter under the ruff? If you answered “yes” to two or more, then hie thee posthaste to the St. James Theatre, where "Something Rotten!" has established itself as Broadway’s funniest, splashiest, slap-happiest musical comedy in at least 400 years. The premise of this cockamamy geeky delight—16th-century playwright brothers (Brian D'Arcy James and John Cariani) consult a soothsayer (Brad Oscar) and find themselves assembling a musical adaptation of "Hamlet" called "Omelette!"—could easily have led to a one-joke SNL sketch or addition to Harvard’s Hasty Pudding repertoire. Instead, tremendous care and showbiz savvy have gone into making a sophisticatedly silly rom-com that has it all: laugh-out-loud lyrics, catchy music, jaw-dropping sight gags and a powerhouse cast selling Bard-laced punch lines to the ecstatic balcony.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF Something Rotten!

    Brian d'Arcy James plays a struggling theater artist going up against Christian Borle's rock-star Shakespeare in this cheeky musical comedy set in Elizabethan England

    David Rooney

    April 22, 2015: The Shakespearean references come thick and fast, along with the winking nods to a whole plethora of modern musicals, in "Something Rotten!" But the laughs in this rambunctious comedy by Broadway newcomers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, written with British humorist John O'Farrell and buoyed by a top-drawer cast, don't require comprehensive recall of classical theater or a particular receptiveness for arcane Broadway in-jokes. This is a big, brash meta-musical studiously fashioned in the mold of Monty Python's "Spamalot," "The Producers" and "The Book of Mormon," loaded with crowd-pleasing showstoppers, deliciously puerile gags and an infectious love of the form it so playfully skewers. While it's been done countless times before, watching a musical that pokes fun at the very idea of a musical remains irresistible sport, especially when the digs are as celebratory as these. There's nothing mean-spirited even in the taunts aimed at frequent spoof targets like "Cats" or "Les Miserables." The first-act high point is a riotous self-parodying number simply titled "A Musical," which represents with mounting excitement everything that's ludicrous and wonderful about the form at its most ebullient — people bursting into spontaneous song; perky chorus members thronging the stage; an explosion of tappers, fan-dancing showgirls and a kickline; even the magnificently cheesy tradition of the encore reprise.

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS REVIEW OF Something Rotten!

    Everything Fresh at Hysterical 'Something Rotten!'

    Mark Kennedy

    April 22, 2015: The first sign that things might go a little nutty at "Something Rotten!" is in the second song when William Shakespeare is called, well, a "little turd." The Bard is mocked as "the poster child for why no one should ever procreate" and "a hack with a knack for stealing anything he can." Those are some of the lyrics to the song "God, I Hate Shakespeare." The mighty St. James Theatre, where Helen Hayes herself starred in "Twelfth Night" and Maurice Evans played "Hamlet," has never seen anything like it. You can feel the cobwebs being blown away. "Something Rotten!," written by three guys making their Broadway debuts, is fresh and hysterical and irreverent. It's easily the funniest thing to arrive on Broadway since "The Book of Mormon." The comedy, which opened Wednesday, is set during the Renaissance and portrays Shakespeare (a delicious Christian Borle) as an arrogant, rock star playwright. Two brothers — played with charm by Brian d'Arcy James and John Cariani — are desperate to write a hit show in his shadow. With the help of a soothsayer (Brad Oscar, killing it) the brothers stumble on the notion of writing the world's first musical. What's that? "It appears to be a play where the dialogue stops and the plot is conveyed through song," explains the soothsayer. "I don't know, I find it hard to believe people would actually pay to see something like this," replies one of the brothers skeptically.

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  • NBC NEW YORK REVIEW OF Something Rotten!

    It's the Bottoms on Top in Easygoing Comedy 'Something Rotten!'

    Robert Kahn

    April 22, 2015: Shakespeare is a charismatic and conniving copycat who wears skin-tight leather pants in the new musical comedy “Something Rotten!” An easygoing effort from the director of “The Book of Mormon,” the real brains—and heart—of “Rotten!” belong to the Bottom Brothers, a pair of aspiring writers who challenge the Bard on his own turf. Now open at the St. James Theatre, “Rotten!” delivers the same sort of accessible and over-the-top laughs as “Mormon.” Both stem from the talents of Casey Nicholaw, the director and choreographer who here teams with brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick (one is a songwriter; the other helped pen “Chicken Run”). “Rotten!” is set in Elizabethan-era London. Shakespeare (Christian Borle) and Nick Bottom (Brian d’Arcy James) once performed in the same acting troupe, but while the former has gone on to success, the latter, along with sibling Nigel (John Cariani), struggles to make a name: “Why is he the Bard? … He’s just one of the bards,” Nick insists.

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