In July of 2017, the national tour of the Tony Award winning musical “Something Rotten!” played Chicago. I remember thinking it to be a brilliant “tour de farce”, but after viewing the current regional production at Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre I see that it is even funnier with the changes made to play this on an in-the-round stage. Under the careful staging of Scott Weinstein and the extraordinary choreography by Alex Sanchez and with a cast that one might say is PERFECT, this should be on your “MUST SEE” list. In fact, a production like this is hard to review because I only have 5 stars to rate it!
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with “Something Rotten!”, here is what it is all about. This title is a line from non other than William Shakespeare and therein lies the tale. It is in the Renaissance in England and William Shakespeare ( Adam Jacobs takes this role to new heights) is a “rock star”. His works ( or are they his?) are loved by all except the Bottom brothers, Nick (KJ Hippensteel, a newcomer to this stage, who I am certain will do more) and Nigel ( the always hysterical Alex Goodrich, a natural comedian) who must write a new play to stay ahead of the money lenders they owe. By the way, the money lender’s name is Shylock (played to perfection by Steven Strafford).
Not knowing what to do, Nick takes the “money-box” savings to a soothsayer, Nostradamus ( Ross Lehman in a role that could have been written with him in mind) who sees into the future and tells Nick that Shakespeare will, in the future write a play called “Omelette” and they can beat him to the punch and that in the future, audiences will want to see musicals. This song and dance number is a true masterpiece with mention in many ways of almost every musical that has played on Marriott’s famed stage over the years of bringing quality musicals to the North Shore. The Broadway tour had Chicagoan Blake Hammond in the Nostradamus role and as great as he was, Lehman took it one step further.
This book written by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrel and the music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirlpatrick is designed to take you away from the problems of everyday life and make at least the two and a half hours of theater a memory that will have you smiling all the way home and maybe into the next day. During the course of this story one finds how funny a farce can be and how good it feels to laugh. In the world we are living in today, we need a good laugh and we need to take our minds elsewhere. This production odes that-TO PERFECTION!
The cast assembled for this stellar production is absolutely amazing. Nick’s wife Bea is played by the always reliable Cassie Slater. Her character is seeking equal rights for women ( back in the 1500’s). She is a stitch and can she sing? WOW! Nigel’s love is Portia (Rebecca Hurd) daughter of Puritan leader Brother Jeremiah ( Chicago favorite Gene Weygandt, who does a cartwheel in act two) who is ant everything. Jonathan Butler-Duplessis is our Minstrel and as always captivates the audience with his brilliant smile and even more brilliant vocal range.
As I always say, the ensemble is a key in doing a musical and this one shines! Brian Bandura, Taylor Broadard, Aaron Burr, Lexis Danca, Alejandro Fonseca, Lauren E.J. Hamilton, Terry Hamilton ( who also takes on some great characters), Ron King, Madison Piner, Liam Quealy, Daniel Reardon, Laura Savage, Richard Strimer, Jessica Wolfrum and Sawyer Smith. These are hardworking performers who change costumes and personalities throughout this production. The costumes by the way (Theresa ham) are magnificent, as always and while the set is simple (Scott Davis) it is a work of art to design a set so that people on all four sides can view the action on the stage- this is one where the action is important. In particular the dance numbers. Alex Sanchez has taken this to a whole new level. If you like “tap” you will LOVE what he has created.
The tech aspects at Marriott are always great. Jesse Klug’s lighting and Robert E. Gilmartin’s sound perfect and the wigs by Miguel A. Armstrong first- rate! The musical direction by Ryan T. Nelson and conductor Patti Garwood are as always a treat and perfect. This is a show that will entertain you from start to finish. As I said in 2017, “A great night of frivolity and laughter” “The perfect place to spend your entertainment dollar” and guess what?
This still holds true and even better, Marriott Theatre is in Lincolnshire with free parking and tickets at far lower prices. A win-win, but you only have until October 20th to do so.