It’s 1595, and there’s plague, Puritans, and a power struggle over who is the paramount playwright. At the top of the heap is “The Bard,” William Shakespeare, and Elizabethan England can’t get enough of him.
It is against this backdrop that the hit Broadway musical Something Rotten! unfolds. Forced to live in the shadow of Shakespeare, brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom struggle to make ends meet with their fledgling theatre company. With a baby on the way and bills to pay, Nick decides to take a risk—and possibly a shortcut. He seeks out a soothsayer to tell him what the next big thing in the theatre world will be. The answer? A musical!
Armed with this new insight, Nick and Nigel set to work on creating a show where performers act, sing, and dance—all at the same time. What a novel idea!
“You don’t need to know anything about the Elizabethan era, musical theatre, or Shakespeare to enjoy Something Rotten!,” said Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “The show looks at how we put everyday people up on a pedestal. Today, we think of Shakespeare as a creator of highbrow art, but at his time, he was a star and very much a celebrity.”
Something Rotten! was nominated for ten Tony Awards, including for Best Musical, and enjoyed a successful national tour that lasted two years. It was even produced in Sweden and Korea.
TimeOut New York called the show “Broadway’s funniest, splashiest, slap-happiest musical comedy in at least 400 years.” The New York Post wrote that the show was “Broadway’s new big, fat hit.”
“One of the brilliant things about Something Rotten! is that the writers found a great balance between the fun of the show and its heart and sincerity,” said Show Director Ellie Mooney. “Ultimately, the play is about staying true to your authentic self, or in Shakespeare’s words, ‘To thine own self be true.’”
And FST’s production of Something Rotten! will be a treat for the eyes as well as the ears. The show features big song and dance numbers, quirky characters, bold costumes, and detailed sets.
“Something Rotten! does a wonderful job of juxtaposing the spectacle and flash of musical theatre with the more inhibited atmosphere of the Elizabethean era,” added Hopkins.
Shakespeare’s costume, for example, mixes the look of rock stars from the ‘80s with staples of Elizabethan attire—doublets and breeches.
“I can’t wait to live out my rockstar dreams,” said Charlie Tingen, who plays Shakespeare in Something Rotten!. “It’s not everyday you get to strut around the stage like Freddie Mercury or Mick Jagger!”
The show’s 14-person cast includes four returning FST artists: Kraig Swartz (The Legend of Georgia McBride), Travis Keith Battle (The Wanderers), Jillian Louis (Burt & Me), and BillyD Hart (Choreographer, Georgia McBride).
Something Rotten! turns everything you think you know about history and theatre on its head—and will make you laugh in the process. Whether you come for the comedy, the show-stopping numbers, or the warm truths at its core, with Something Rotten!, you’re in for a good time.
Something Rotten! is now playing in FST’s Gompertz Theatre. For tickets and more information, click here.
Header Image: Charlie Tingen (William Shakespeare) with Ensemble. Photo by John Jones.