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“Something Rotten!” is anything but rotten

By Emily Widgren, Page editor

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On September 25th, a new musical opened in Detroit. “Something Rotten” written by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick is a musical about writing the first musical during the Renaissance.

The main character, Nick Bottom, and his brother Nigel are trying to write a play in the shadow of Shakespeare. In Nick’s pursuit to write something unique, he visits a fortune teller who predicts that in the future, musicals will be the most popular type of show, even above Shakespeare’s work.

When I first read about the musical, I was worried I would be bored because the Renaissance tends to not be my favorite period in history. When the overture started and I heard the opening song, I realized that I was wrong. The catchy and joyous songs were consistent throughout the show.

While I enjoyed this show, I know that people such as my brother and father, who aren’t familiar with other musicals would not. There are a lot of references to other musicals, including Chicago, Cats, Annie and many others scattered throughout the dialogue and songs. Many of the comedic moments in the show were reference based.

With that being said, the show was energetic overall. Everything from the songs to the actors were full of liveliness and energy that made the show come even more to life. My favorite song was about halfway through the first act; when the fortune teller was trying to convince Nick to produce a musical. The score was very bright and the number was flashy. The choreography was very jazzy and stereotypically Broadway musical, including kicklines and tap dancing breaks. The actors and dancers were obviously having a great time, which reflected back into the audience.

During the second half of the first act, the show went into somewhat of a lull for me. The main plot had been revealed and Shakespeare was was trying to figure out what the Bottom brothers were producing. During this time, nothing new was developed in the plot or the characters. While it was still entertaining, I would have enjoyed a little more action or development in some area of the show.  

The beginning of the second act bounced back from what we saw near the end of the previous act with a welcoming reprise of the opening song. During the second act, the audience sees more of the writing and producing aspects of the musical. To break it up, a budding romance between Nick’s brother, Nigel, and a young Puritan woman named Porcia is thrown in. This helped add a new plot to the show other than the creation of their musical.

While I enjoyed the musical, I think that it could have been shortened. During the second act, there was another lull where I found myself looking at the time and how many scenes there were. While I thought many of the scenes were important to the show, I found some of them to be less important to the overall plot.

Overall, I enjoyed the musical and thought it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours downtown. I would recommend having a background knowledge of  a few musicals, for many of the funny moments came from musical and play references. The overall optimistic message of the show was good, and the ending tied up all of the loose strings, leaving the audience content as the curtain closed. “Something Rotten” will be at the Fisher Theatre until October 7.

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