A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW: Something Rotten at Theatre Jacksonville
Theatre Jacksonville officially opened its 100th season on November 1, 2019 with the North Florida premier of what you will find is the funniest musical ever seen on this historic stage, “Something Rotten.” At least that was our reaction which, judging from the laughter and thunderous applause we heard, was also shared by the full-house audience on opening night.
“Something Rotten” remains on stage through November 17th. The book is by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell with music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick. The musical officially opened on Broadway in April, 2015. It was nominated for ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical; it received only one, for Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Christian Nicholaw). The show ran for over 700 performances and launched a national tour afterward. No, it did not play in Jacksonville.
This clever play is for Shakespeare lovers, Shakespeare haters, and those who have only a vague memory of Shakespeare’s works left over from school days. In fact, you don’t need to know anything at all about Shakespeare to enjoy this lavish production filled with non-stop action.
The story is set in 1595 and revolves around playwrights Nick and Nigel Bottom, two brothers who are hoping for fame and fortune by staging new works. They face major obstacles. Patrons love the famed William Shakespeare and apparently have no interest in new works. Puritans consider theatre sinful. The brothers are broke. And then there’s the Black Plague.
Song titles will give you some idea of what to expect. They include “Welcome to the Renaissance,” “God, I Hate Shakespeare,” and “Hard to Be the Bard.” The show includes many references to songs from modern musicals, and is filled with energetic dancing and a wide range of costumes.
Be prepared for multiple double entendres, silly puns, and deliriously funny blasphemy throughout the evening. We’re not going to say more about the plot – a recap would take several pages, and, more importantly, we don’t want to provide spoilers.
The principal cast is made up of some of the most appreciated comics of the Jacksonville’s stages. The named cast includes Josh Waller (Nick Bottom}, Paul Gregg (Nigel Bottom), Daniel Austin (Shakespeare), Laura Mauldin (Nostradamus), Julia Fallon (Bea Bottom), Morgan Perry (Portia), Jay Bilderback (Brother Jeremiah), Blake Michael Osner (Lord Chapham), Evan Gould (Shylock), and Hector Gonzalez Smith (Minstrel).
If that list of characters is not zany enough for you, just consider the talented performers in the ensemble, many of whom are well-known to theatre patrons. They include Matt Barnes, Evan Bowen, Leanne Gullo, Maitlin Hart, Amanda Jackson, Jaylyn Jones, Matt King, Shawn LeNoble, Theresa Pazanowski, Susan Roche, Christian Savin, Ron Shreve, Neal Thorburn, Matt Tompkins, Nickolas Wendorf, and Kirsten Yates.
The fabulous orchestra hidden away back stage was directed by Erin Balazs Barnes, who was also on keyboard, and included Heather Baerga (Woodwinds), Holden Hackney (Percussion), Joshua Johnian (Guitar), and Lee Wolf (Bass).
The Technical Production Team included Tracy Anne Olin (Director); Curtis J. Williams (Choreographer, Costume Design); Tim Watson (Technical Director, Scenic & Lighting Design); Jon Scherf (Graphic Design); Lauren Copelin (Assistant Technical Director); Kimberly Mecca (Stage Manager); Lora Christil and Savannah LeNoble (Assistant Stage Managers); Clinton E. Kennedy (Hair and Makeup Design); Laura Mauldin (Tap Choreographer); Theresa Pazanowski, Christian Savin, and Paul Greg (Dance Captains); Ron Shreve and Allen Morton (Properties); Audie Gibson (Light Board Operator); and Jayla Groleau (Follow Spot Operator).
Don’t miss this one. Theatre Jacksonville is located at 2032 San Marco Boulevard, in Jacksonville, Florida. For reservations and additional information, call 904-396-4425 or visit theatrejax.com. Additional information can also be found on the Facebook pages for Theatre Jacksonville and the Theatre Alliance of Greater Jacksonville.