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"Something Rotten!", a New Musical, at the St. James Theatre
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"Something Rotten!", a New Musical, at the St. James Theatre

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Something Rotten!
(Something Rotten! Website)

Book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell
Music and Lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick

At the
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th Street

Brian d’Arcy James, John Cariani,
Heidi Blickenstaff, Brad Oscar, Kate Reinders,
Brooks Ashmanskas, Peter Bartlett,
Gerry Vichi, Michael James Scott
Christian Borle

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Directed and Choreographed by Casey Nicholaw
Musical Direction and Vocal Arrangements by Phil Reno
Arrangements by Glen Kelly
Orchestrations by Larry Hochman
Music Coordinator: John Miller

Scenic Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: Gregg Barnes
Lighting Design: Jeff Croiter
Sound Design: Peter Hylenski
Makeup Design: Milagros
Hair Design: Josh Marquette
Technical Supervision:
Juniper Street Productions, Inc.
Casting: Telsey + Company
Bethany Knox, CSA
Production Stage Manager: Charles Underhill
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Advertising & Marketing: SPOTCO
General Management: Bespoke Theatricals

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 30, 2015

There’s a showstopper at the St. James Theatre these days, and it’s called “A Musical”, highlighting Act I of Something Rotten!, a new musical itself, book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick. I do admit that the bawdy, sketched, promotional materials were not too enticing, and I expected a silly, over-sexed series of teen-styled antics, something like spring break or an end-year fraternity bacchanalia. But, lo and behold, I loved this show. Brian D’Arcy James, as Nick Bottom, and John Cariani, as Nigel Bottom, are late 16th century playwrights, looking for a hit show. The hot shot in town is Shakespeare, personified in a layered, over-the-top performance by Christian Borle. The Bottom brothers hire Nostradamus (Brad Oscar), an ebullient psychic, to advise them on a new angle for a money-making hit. That angle – “A Musical”, and thus the show-stopping number, with a chorus line of men in britches and boots, and women in long, bustle dresses. Speaking of chorus lines, the quintessentially evocative number has fragments and phrases borrowed from a century of musicals, and it ends with the cast holding head shots of themselves in character, an homage to A Chorus Line.

Nick’s wife, Bea, Heidi Blickenstaff, performs with spine and wit, while Nigel’s girlfriend, Portia, Kate Reinders, exudes the air of a comical, movie damsel. Double and triple entendres abound, especially in references to Shakespeare’s works, as Hamlet is the source of an Act II hilarious number, Make an Omelette. Gregg Barnes’ costumes were sensational here, as they were throughout. Echoing a prop in last year’s big Broadway hit, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Mr. Barnes added codpieces to the men’s britches. Shakespeare is portrayed in tight black leather, along with his henchmen, and Mr. Borle truly hams it up, having a swell time in the process. Gerry Vichi plays Shylock, a producer, aka money man, and his investment pays off. Portia’s father, Brother Jeremiah (Brooks Ashmanskas), is a Puritan with closeted obsessions (more double entendres abound), while Peter Bartlett plays two engaging characters, Lord Clapham and Master of the Justice. Phil Reno conducts the energized orchestra. The pulse tonight, throughout the theater, was astounding. The audience bonded, laughing with tears, mentally checking off tossed, Broadway allusions and sharing the communal party-making. The St. James morphed into a British Mardi Gras, circa 1595!

Casey Nicholaw has directed and choreographed for split-timed, vaudevillian styled, rapid one-liners, in between high kicks and rambunctious twirls. Scott Pask’s set is Disney-like, with a retro, story book quality, in dark Tudor. Jeff Croiter’s lighting is warm and bright, while Peter Hylenski’s sound enables frenetic patter to soar to the rafters. Josh Marquette’s hair design, with several characters in Elizabethan wigs, perfectly enhanced the gestalt. And, Michael James Scott, as a Minstrel, along with the ensemble, added generously to this vibrant experience. This is a must-see, wildly entertaining show.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at