‘Something Rotten!’ at Smith Center spoofs Shakespeare, musicals

To be, or not to be, a musical.

That was never the question for the creators of “Something Rotten!” It was more like the answer.

After all, the Elizabethan-era musical romp — which opens an eight-performance run Tuesday at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall — focuses on the production of the very first musical.

It’s called “Omelette: The Musical.” (Not to be confused with “Hamlet,” although there’s an undeniable ham-and-eggs connection in there somewhere.)

There’s also a definite connection between the creators of said “Omelette” — brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, who run a stage troupe in 1595 London — and their theatrical nemesis, one William Shakespeare by name.

In Nick Bottom’s view, Will is a pill. Or, to quote Nick in one of the musical’s opening songs, “I just don’t get it, how a mediocre actor from a measly little town is suddenly the brightest jewel in England’s royal crown.”

Nigel, by contrast, argues that Shakespeare’s “poetry soars like a sweet violin; God’s own inspiration like lightning doth strike him,” prompting Nick to complain, “Jeez, you sound just like him.”

Beyond the power of Shakespeare’s pen, however, there’s the problem of Shakespeare’s celebrity.

Preening in “Will Power,” Shakespeare shakes it like a rock star, regaling the assembled multitudes with these modest lyrics: “I am the Will with the skill to thrill you with my quill — I am the hard-working Bard you regard.”

It may be difficult to declaim with one’s tongue firmly in cheek, but “Something Rotten!” and its central performers manage the feat with ease.

Then again, they’ve had practice.

That’s because the three actors headlining the tour — Rob McClure as Nick Bottom (yes, he shares a name with the weaver who metamorphoses into a literal ass, thanks to some mischievous magic in the real Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”), Josh Grisetti as brother Nigel and Adam Pascal as Will Shakespeare — closed the show on Broadway before taking it on the road.

The curtain came down on Broadway’s “Something Rotten!” on Jan. 1; by mid-January, the show was on the road, according to Grisetti.

Except for the three principals and one chorus member, “the entire company was new,” he notes during a telephone interview from the musical’s Kansas City, Missouri, stop.

“All four of us were doing the show at night” during the monthlong tour rehearsal, Grisetti recalls. And “to save us from being worked to death,” the tour understudies sometimes performed “to give us a little bit of a break.”

Although the touring version “pretty much is” the Broadway show, according to director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw, “we made a few tweaks here and there.”

The “we” includes songwriters (and brothers) Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick; Wayne is the Grammy-winning songwriter behind Eric Clapton’s “Change the World.” (Karey Kirkpatrick co-wrote the musical’s book with John O’Farrell, his collaborator on the screenplay for the 2000 animated feature “Chicken Run.”)

Recently, Nicholaw joined the company on the road to “sort of tinker” with the show, Grisetti notes. “It’s never quite a finished piece. It keeps it interesting for us.”

Among the changes from the Broadway original: a second-act rewrite on the ballad “To Thine Own Self.”

The creators “had these ideas from when they opened” in 2015, “but they just ran out of time. The tour gave them the opportunity to make those changes.”

Not that they change the essential nature of “Something Rotten!”

Nicholaw first learned of the production through Tony-winning producer Kevin McCollum, a pal of Karey Kirkpatrick’s since their days working at Disneyland.

“I was absolutely hooked the minute they started talking,” Nicholaw says of the show, noting its focus on two subjects dear to his heart: Shakespeare and musical theater.

“Two scenes and three songs” were his introduction to what would become “Something Rotten!” Now, “only two of the songs are still in it,” the director-choreographer adds, “and I don’t even recognize what they were.”

But that’s showbiz.

“Everything’s always a challenge,” Nicholaw admits, citing the trimming of extraneous scenes as an essential step in the process of creating a hit. “The audience tells you what works and what doesn’t work.”

Forsooth, a spoof: Parodying musicals past and present

“Something Rotten!” may be set in Shakespeare’s day, but its references range from the Bard to Broadway.

Of course, Broadway musical spoofs are nothing new for Tony-winning director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw, whose credits — notably “Book of Mormon” and “Spamalot,” which he choreographed — include heaping helpings of song-and-dance humor inspired by stage predecessors.

Numerous “Book of Mormon” numbers echoed bits from “The King and I” to “The Sound of Music” — and beyond.

The “Something Rotten!” references, meanwhile, range from “Mary Poppins” and “The Music Man” to “The Lion King” and “Phantom of the Opera,” to cite a few. (A New York Times article that ran shortly after the show’s 2015 Broadway debut cited more than 80, according to actor Josh Grisetti, who plays Nigel Bottom.)

“It is pretty funny I end up doing these shows,” Nicholaw says of the musical spoofs.

And when there’s a musical spoof, can tap-dancing be far away? Not in a show he’s choreographing, Nicholaw adds, only half in jest.

Some of the numbers are definitely “tap-happy, and it didn’t even start out that way,” he notes. “Everybody kept wanting it, so I kept adding more and more.”

Which is exactly what happened in the stage version of “Aladdin,” when he added tap to “A Friend Like Me” only after Disney Theatricals chief Tom Schumacher asked him, “ ‘Where’s the tap number?’ ” Similarly, “Book of Mormon” co-director Trey Parker told him, “ ‘I picture ‘Turn It Off’ as a tap number,’ ” so Nicholaw obliged.

“People love seeing something on stage they can’t do,” the director-choreographer says of the old-fashioned yet surefire dance style. “It makes you happy. There’s something about (seeing) something familiar.”

And speaking of familiar, Grisetti and Nicholaw’s history of collaboration extends to “Spamalot’s” Las Vegas incarnation at the Wynn, where the actor played Prince Herbert and the Historian.

“That was the first time Casey and I worked together,” Grisetti says. “It’s full circle.”

In more ways than one, given the period costumes featured in “Spamalot” and “Something Rotten!”

As Grisetti quips, “I only play Vegas when I get to wear a codpiece.”

Contact Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five Chris Stapleton songs you need to hear
D. Michael Evola opened E-String to make New York style pizza
Shamrock Macarons at Morels at Palazzo
Zuma serves a sushi roll topped with 24-karat gold
La Cirque covers their quail and foie gras in real gold
Jean-Georges Steakhouse seves chocolate gold bars
3 ways you can eat gold in Las Vegas
Artist Kathleen Nathan On The Virtues Of Library Galleries
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s art galleries offers artists a more relaxed vibe for showing their work. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada SPCA Competes In Tournament Of Tails
The NSPCA and its mascot cat, Prince, are competing in an online voting challenge for a $5,000 grand prize.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Eureka's cocktail comes with a "buzz button" that will shock your taste buds
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed Deadline reports that New Line has purchased Chase and Lawrence Konner’s screenplay for their “Sopranos” prequel film. The working title for the prequel is “The Many Saints of Newark.” Chase created the HBO series, which ran for six seasons, and Konner served as a writer. “The Many Saints of Newark” is set during the 1960s riots in the New Jersey city between the African-American and Italian communities. Multiple characters from the series, albeit younger versions, are expected to star in the film. The Sopranos won 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards during its run.
The Big Bounce America is coming to the Las Vegas Valley
The Big Bounce America. (Courtesy Big Bounce America)
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History According to The Hollywood Reporter, 26.5 million watched the Oscars, a 20 percent drop from last year. The 26.5 million viewers would be an all-time low for the Oscars. Overnight returns had the lengthy ABC telecast averaging a 18.9 rating among households between 8 and 11 p.m. ET. Last year, 32.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the ceremony. The previous low for viewership was 32 million viewers in 2008 when Jon Stewart was host. The Shape of Water picked up an award for Best Picture, while Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand won Best Actor and Actress, respectively.
March First Friday theme is “Think”
First Friday art, culture, music and food event takes place on the first Friday of every month in and around the studios and galleries of the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon)
Cirque’s One Night for One Drop gets ready for the big night
Cirque du Soleil’s “One Night for One Drop” performed a dress rehearsal for the annual benefit show. This year’s show at Mandalay Bay is based on the life of singer-songwriter Jewel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Kosher Experience provides kosher foods to Las Vegas families
2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas at The Smith Center
Ten touring productions are on The Smith Center’s 2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas season schedule. (The Smith Center)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like