By ERIKA SASSEVILLE
Life was hard in the ’90s . . . the 1590’s especially. The Renaissance meant a rebirth of art and culture, and while England is known for its poets and writers from that period, one stood out above all: William Shakespeare (Daniel Beeman). Something Rotten! is a truly delightful show and is playing now through April 8th at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. In this original musical (created by Kareyand Wayne Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell), Nigel and Nick Bottom (Josh Grisetti and Scott Cote) are brothers and writing partners trying to make their names by finding the next big thing in theatre before Shakespeare can.
Nick starts feeling the pressure when his wife Bea (Maggie Lakis) wants to be a modern Elizabethan woman and get a job to help support the three of them. Desperate to beat Shakespeare at his own game, Nick goes to see a soothsayer and finds Nostradamus, Thomas Nostradamus (Blake Hammond). Nostradamus looks into the future and finds what will bring thousands of people to the theatre: Musicals. In a show-stopping, uber-meta, crowd-pleaser (“A Musical”) Nostradamus convinces Nick to put on a musical, complete with tap dancing, chorus boys, and a Reprise. Nostradamus has a hysterical habit of seeing tidbits of what will happen in the future of musical theater. Throughout the show they will reference dozens of musicals that will delight audiences no matter their level of expertise.
While his brother struggles to create something out of the garbled advice Nostradamus can provide, Nigel gets distracted by something else entirely: love and poetry. He meets Portia (Autumn Hurlbert), the daughter of a Puritan leader, and they share their love of poetry and fall in love themselves. Nigel is a true poet, a true Renaissance playwright, and soon he draws the attention of Shakespeare himself. Complacent in his fame and bored of coming up with his own original ideas, Shakespeare gets closer to Nigel and plots to steal his plots.
Whether you have read all of Shakespeare’s plays or none of them. Whether you have been a lifelong lover of musical theater, or have never heard a show tune in your life. Something Rotten! is a hilarious and brilliant show for all.
Tickets for Something Rotten! at the Orpheum Theatre are on sale at the State Theatre Box Office (805 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis), by calling (800) 982-2787 or by clicking to HennepinTheatreTrust.org. For information and reservations for groups of 10 or more, call (612) 373-5665 or email MinneapolisGroups@broadwayacrossamerica.com.