Sunday, 14 June 2015

Something Rotten!

Where? : St James Theatre
When?  : Saturday 30th May, 2pm 

**Spoilers throughout**

I knew I wanted to see this show from the second I heard about it; a tongue-in-cheek love letter to both Musical Theatre and Shakespeare, starring Brian d'Arcy James (who was fantastic as Shrek) and Christian Borle, both from a tv show I adore - "Smash". Plus getting to see an original broadway cast.... how could I not? 

Something Rotten! is the creation of brothers Karey & Wayne Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, with direction and choreography from Casey Nicholaw, who continuously proves why he's the popular choice on the musical theatre scene right now. 

From the moment Minstrel Michael James Scott opens the show, with his smooth, creamy voice, singing the intro to the irresistibly catchy "Welcome to the Renaissance", I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed - we leap straight into a big, feel-good ensemble number.

Shortly after, we are introduced to brothers and struggling playwrights Nick and Nigel Bottom, played by Brian d'Arcy James and John Cariani, living in the shadow of Shakespeare. The brothers are at odds in their approach to their art - Nick hates Shakespeare and even has a song to say as much, Nigel on the other hand is a bit of a fan and wants to emulate him. Brian d'Arcy James is aggressively assertive yet endearingly determined as Nick, and Cariani is sweet, naive and nerdy as "fan-boy" Nigel.

Then there's the show-stopping moment when Nick Bottom meets Soothsayer Nostradamus played by Brad Oscar who is absolutely hilarious. Nostradamus can see the future, though it's vague, hence mistaking "Hamlet" for "Omelette" ; his predictions for the future of theatre are presented in the song 'A Musical' which needs no explanation. The term "showstopper" isn't an unfamiliar concept to me, but this is the first time I've really seen a song properly stop the show for a few minutes.   

There's a bit of a build up to the arrival of Shakespeare, which created that rock-god tension that they were going for; I found him reminiscent of Stacee Jaxx from Rock of Ages. Christian Borle is fantastic, tapping into an arrogance and self-importance that just makes this role. There is something oddly alluring about Borle as Shakespeare, whether that's the attitude, the guy liner ..... or perhaps even those muscles he's been working on; I assume this is the reaction they are hoping for to the character - at the same time as being repulsed by his ego-mania, we need to identify with the God-like adoration for him. I was pretty impressed with his English accent which, although borrowed from the likes of Hugh Grant, is unwavering from start to finish. A Tony award well earned for Borle. 

Everything about this show is pure, unabashed musical theatre from the gorgeous, innovative costumes (a mixture of 16th Century and modern day), pantomime style glitzy sets, flashing lights, large ensemble numbers, high-kicks, tap-dancing, catchy ear-worm songs, which you'll find yourself humming as you leave the theatre - a sign of a good score - and lots of laughter, especially if you are a big musical theatre fan who'll pick up all the references. I loved every indulgent moment. 

I really think this show would appeal to a wide west end audience, so let's hope it makes it overseas - get nagging people.  

For further information, or to book tickets, please go to the official website 

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