Happy Sunday, Nerd Cactus followers! It is with great sadness that I bring this weekend to a close. I spent the last few days visiting New York City and I wasn’t ready to leave just yet. Ah, well… Alas the week can only last so long.
While I was in the city, however, I found the perfect Silly Sunday for Shakeapeare month! In the midst of my whirlwind adventure through the city that never sleeps I saw a Broadway show at the St. James theatre entitled: Something Rotten! For those of you who love the Bard, follow our blog, or read Hamlet in high school (that’s all of you, I hope) that line should be pretty recognizable. Of course, it’s not in the context that you’d think as this musical is a farcical romp through 16th century England during a time when Shakespeare was a rock star and struggling writers sought to emulate his genius (which, in the show, is almost all the result of theft).
Following the story of two brothers whose work is constantly overshadowed by “The Bard”, Something Rotten! lays the comedy on thick. And it is magic. Nick and Nigel Bottom (I know!) are in need of a hit since their latest play has been swept out from under them by the notorious “borrower” William Shakespeare. They are in danger of losing their patron, Nick has a baby on the way, and the only person willing to give them money for their production is Shylock the Jew (I know!), who is prohibited from being a patron due to his religion. Nick goes to a soothsayer named Nostradamus (no, not that one, his nephew) in a desperate attempt to find out what audiences will want to see in the future and learns about the Broadway musical. With the knowledge of tap dancing and glittery ensemble numbers Nick sets out to write the world’s very first original musical. Without a brilliant idea his first attempt falls flat so he asks the soothsayer to look into the future and tell him what Shakespeare’s most famous play will be. Thus, Omlette: the Musical is born. Yeah. You know what, I’m gonna leave it at that because it’s incredible to watch and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone.
From the opening number “Welcome to the Renaissance” to the gigantic Puritan ensemble dream sequence to any of the various brilliantly choreographed tap numbers, this show has everything. The Shakespeare themed jokes run rampant as do the musical theatre references, but even with the most minimal knowledge of either of these subjects anyone can enjoy the show because it is full of wit, innuendo, and perfectly “egg”xecuted sight gags. The cast is superb, the writing simultaneously poignant and hilarious, and the story continuously pokes fun at the theatrical experience we have held so dear ever since the days of The Globe. If you’re planning a trip to the city, plan to see this show. Otherwise, definitely try and catch it out on tour. Worst case scenario, just listen to the soundtrack and enjoy. It’s infectiously catchy.
P.S. Here’s the performance of “A Musical” at the 2015 Tony Awards. I wish the quality were better, but it’s a great representation of one of the most absurdly elaborate numbers in the show. Enjoy!