Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Also see Gil's recent reviews of Brian Stokes Mitchell and Lara Downes - A New World A-Comin', The Truth About Winnie Ruth Judd, and Nina West with Seth Rudetsky
The plot follows brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom. With the Bard's star continuing to rise, the Bottom brothers find themselves struggling to keep their theatrical company afloat in the shadow of Shakespeare's success. Nick, fueled by a mix of envy and desperation, and fighting to keep his family out of debt, seeks the help of the eccentric soothsayer Nostradamus in a desperate bid to uncover the next big thing in theatre. However, Nick's quest for success takes unexpected and uproarious turns that ultimately impact him and his family.
In what seems like a recent endless stream of jukebox musicals and film-to-stage adaptations, the originality of Something Rotten! is a breath of fresh air. The entertaining, tuneful, and toe-tapping score by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick is complemented by a fast-paced and cleverly written book by John O'Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick. The lyrics and dialogue are filled with witty wordplay, excellent rhymes, and references to classic musicals, which adds layers of humor and depth to the already very funny storyline. The musical also explores themes of ambition, rivalry, and the timeless pursuit of artistic innovation, along with how women were treated at that period in time, with characters who are charming and a plot that is constantly engaging.
The Greasepaint cast is excellent. Declan Skaggs brings an appropriate sense of desperation and determination as the practical Nick Bottom, while James McGuire exudes charm and vulnerability as Nick's anxious, poetry-loving brother Nigel. Skaggs has had leading roles in recent shows, and his strong singing voice and clear portrayals always shine; his performance here is wonderful. McGuire makes his Greasepaint debut with this role and his fidgety, nervous portrayal is warm and appealing. Evan Kaushesh is superb as the flamboyant and diva-esque William Shakespeare, delivering a performance filled with charisma and comedic flair. Kaushesh's interactions with Skaggs provide some of the production's most memorable comic moments due to their sharp timing and their firm and amusing performances; their tap off segment is hilarious.
In the supporting cast, Sebastian Girodroux is a hoot as the eccentric Nostradamus. His performance, with Skaggs and the ensemble, of "A Musical," which is both a sendup and a loving homage to musicals, is a witty gem. Bella Cucchetti is warm, strong, and full of life as Nick's determined wife Bea, and Sophie Swingler is spirited and charming as Portia, the puritan young woman Nigel falls for. All deliver wonderful performances that add depth and humor to the production. Girodroux also has a featured solo in the opening number and he and the entire cast deliver bright, crisp, clear vocals under Mary Ellen Loose's vibrant music direction. The ensemble delivers energetic and polished performances, including Marco Johnson, who provides a lot of comic relief as Portia's bible-spouting father Jeremiah, and Millie Gleave who is very fun as Shylock.
Bob Sorenson's skillful direction seamlessly blends humor and heart, with firm and bright performances from each of the cast members who exhibit sharp comic timing that always ensures the jokes land. Paul Yount's lively choreography adds excitement to each number, many of which build into crowd-pleasing showstoppers, and are all danced well by the entire cast. Dave Temby's sound design makes sure that every line and lyric is crisp and clear, while Chase Budden and Pete Bish's simple but effective set design, Trevon Powell's lush and period appropriate costumes, and Dale Nagakawa's lighting design combine to create a vibrant and colorful world on stage.
With its superb cast, sharp creative elements, and spotless direction, Greasepaint Youth Theatre's production of Something Rotten! is a riotous romp through Elizabethan England.
Something Rotten! runs through February 25, 2024, at Greasepaint Youth Theatre, 7020 E. 2nd Street, Scottsdale AZ. For tickets and information, please call 480-949-7529 or visit www.greasepaint.org.
Director: Bob Sorenson