Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Something Rotten! - Sharon Playhouse

The Sharon Playhouse commences their summer season with a generally sprightly production of the crowd pleasing musical, Something Rotten!  The show is clever and full of merriment, full of high-spirited dance numbers and a tuneful score.


It is the end of the 16th century and William Shakespeare (Danny Drewes) has achieved rock star status as the playwright everyone loves and wants to emulate.  Enter the Bottom brothers, Nick (Michael Santora) and Nigel (Max Crumm), that write and produce their own plays in the shadow of The Bard.  Unfortunately, they are in desperate need of a hit to keep their merry band of actors together and placate their moneyed patron.   Complicating matters is Nick’s desire to make a better life for him and his wife Bea (Emily Esposito) and Nigel’s love for Portia (Melissa Goldberg) the daughter of the holier-than-thou Puritan, Brother Jeremiah (Daniel Pivovar).  In desperation, Nick turns to a demented soothsayer (Jen Cody) to help her divine the next big thing in the theater.  Her simple response - a musical - sets in motion the boisterous and hugely entertaining Something Rotten!


The book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell is very funny, poking fun at theater conventions and musicals of the past.  While the defining premise of the show is rather offbeat, the two somehow make it work.  As a certified musical theater geek, the non-stop references to musicals past and present is an added bonus.


The score by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick is a delight.  Tuneful, zany and frenzied the songs are delivered with a full-throttled gusto by the talented cast.  From the raucous opening number, “Welcome to the Renaissance,” to the bellyaching complaints of “God, I Hate Shakespeare,” to the madcap production numbers “A Musical” and “We See the Light,” the songs have a joyful assault on our auditory senses.


The cast is led by Michael Santora as Nick Bottom.  While he is in fine form as the misguided, resolute Bottom brother his portrayal would have been more humorous if he was more headstrong and obstinate.  Max Crumm, a Broadway veteran, gives an assured and lightly comical performance as Nigel.  Danny Drewes is boorish and calculating as Shakespeare, but sometimes comes off as too flamboyant.  Daniel Pivovar, with his mistaken double entendres, provides silly moments to relish.  Emily Esposito, popping up intermittently as Bea, provides a number of lighthearted moments. Melissa Goldberg’s Portia is probably the finest performance of the acting ensemble.  She finds just the right amount of giddiness to her role without being cloying or too over-the-top. The diminutive Jen Cody, a sure-fired performer, once again enlivens the Connecticut stage with her comedic and physical prowess.  Her portrayal of Nostradomus never fails to bring a laugh from the audience. 


Director Amy Griffin keeps the large cast moving through their raucous and mischievous paces, pausing every so often with a quieter, more reflective (but still funny) scene.  She could have fine-tuned some of the actor’s performances to better balance the production.  Ms. Griffin adeptly integrates choreographer Justin Boccitto’s energetic dance routines, especially the razzle dazzle of “A Musical.”


TJ Greenway’s scenic design is serviceable, allowing for quick set changes.   The costumes by Kathleen DeAngelis are colorful with a slightly off-kilter take on renaissance garb.


Something Rotten!, playing through July 8.  Click here for dates and times.


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