There’s nothing rotten about ‘Something Rotten’

A very original musical, “Something Rotten!” follows two brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, playwrights in Elizabethan London who are trying to be better than William Shakespeare. The play opens with a man singing on stage, setting the scene. It’s a little hard to understand everything he’s saying because the music overtakes him.

Nick and Nigel Bottom enter and are working on a play. They are trying to make their play a success so they can make money and become famous.

Everyone in their acting troupe is comparing the play to Shakespeare. Nick complains that he hates Shakespeare. “God, I Hate Shakespeare” is a song sung by the brothers and the acting troupe. It’s a comical number that pokes fun at Shakespeare despite his success. Nigel defends Shakespeare, who to him is an inspiration. Nick, who worked with Shakespeare in the past, thinks Shakespeare is the pits.

Unfortunately, the brothers find out that Shakespeare is making a play about the same subject as their play. Their financial backer threatens to stop providing money unless they come up with a new idea. Nick, whose wife Bea offers to work to help support their family, can’t stand the thought that his play won’t be successful. He goes to a soothsayer to ask for advice about the future.

The soothsayer, Nostradamus, recommends musicals. Nick asks what’s a musical and “A Musical” develops into by far the best song of the play. It’s very catchy and does a lot of fun clichés about musicals within the song including poking fun at “Cats.”

After visiting the soothsayer, Nick is confident that his next play will be a hit. He returns to his acting troupe renewed. He and his troupe sing about “Bottom’s Gonna Be on Top.”

Meanwhile, Nigel, who is trying to figure out an idea for a play, meets and falls in love with Portia. They both share a love for Shakespeare plays. Nigel sent a poem to Shakespeare to read and is invited to watch him perform in the park. Shakespeare dresses like Danny Zuko of “Grease.” He’s clearly too cool and a ladies’ man. He is impressed with Nigel’s poem.

Shakespeare is under a lot of pressure to keep creating amazing plays. He sings “Hard to Be the Bard.” Shakespeare decides to spy on the Bottom brothers to see if he can steal any of their ideas.

Nick, still finding it hard to come up with an amazing idea, returns to ask Nostradamus what Shakespeare’s next hit play will be. Nostradamus, trying to see the future, tells Nick it has something to do with ham. Nick is so excited to know what the play will be about he thinks Nostradamus is talking about an omelette.

Nick brings this musical idea back to the acting troupe. Nigel is not sure about this play. He argues with Nick about what the play is about. The two have a big fight and Nigel goes off alone. He returns the next day with a brilliant idea, but Nick doesn’t want to hear it because he knows the omelette play will be a success because of what the soothsayer told him.

Nick’s company does put on a play called “Omelette.” The song “Make an Omelette” is so silly, it’s funny. Eggs come out on stage, and then the actors hit the eggs with frying pans and they spit out their yokes.

After the success of the opening day of the play, Shakespeare reveals he is in the play and he invited all the people to see how bad it was. He then steals Nigel’s amazing play that Nick didn’t want to hear and creates “Hamlet.” Nick and Nigel are arrested for putting on a play because the Puritans complained about a play with music.

The court wants to put the brothers to death, but Shakespeare convinces the court to send the brothers to America instead, just in case he might need them for ideas. The play ends singing about America.

“Something Rotten!” is a giggle fest from start to end with the song “A Musical” an exclamation point in the middle. The irony of the play “Omelette” instead of the iconic “Hamlet” is very funny to watch unfold. The characters tell the story beautifully and keep the play moving so that there is nothing rotten about this play.