Saturday, October 8, 2016

Something Rotten (Broadway)!

Brothers Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel Bottom (Josh Grisetti) are playwrights who are trying to make it big in a theater scene that is too small to fit another one next to William Shakespeare (Will Chase), whom everyone adores as the rock star demigod of renaissance England. When a soothsayer named Thomas Nostradamus (Brad Oscar) comes into the picture and offers Nick a peek at what would be his rival’s most successful play ever, he does not think twice and grabs the opportunity. Convinced that he can now outshine the man he both idolizes and demonizes, he produces a musical called Omelette, a genre of theater that London has never seen before. Nigel believes it to be a bad idea and insists on his own play, a story about a king who loses the love of his life, starts to question his own existence, and eventually loses his sanity. As the two brothers begin to drift apart, Shakespeare moves to make sure that his very own fame and current social standing would be preserved at all costs.

Not everyone loves Shakespeare, and it is the same case with Shakespearean theater. To say that it is outdated is stating the obvious, yet the tradition remains strong because it is indeed the precursor of the contemporary English play. While Something Rotten might first appear to be a below-the-belt jab at that very tradition, you will quickly realize that it is actually a praiseworthy parody, not just of the genre but of itself as well. It is to this subtle self-consciousness that this musical owes its ingenuity, giving it the chance to present a tongue-in-cheek critique of Shakespeare’s works. Its flexibility, on the other hand, makes it possible to mention contemporary theater works, resulting in a brand of comedy that relies more on absurdity, given the circumstances involved.

Omelette: The Musical is a hilarious riot in which almost every successful Broadway hit is referenced: a singing nun with a guitar, tap dancing omelets, an egg belting And I Am Telling You, Nazis versus the Puerto Ricans, and the evil uncle named Scar. It’s a funny blend of everything, a sidesplitting tribute to Broadway. The more theater productions you know, the harder you laugh. And this is not just for the musical within the musical, but also holds true for the entire play itself. There are moments when you will see someone dying of laughter and you ask yourself why. And then you realize that it must have been a reference to a show you have not seen yet.

The dialogues are replete with double entendre alluding to sex, homosexuality, and other controversial topics that will probably raise some eyebrows. The good thing is that it’s done in good taste and the humor makes it less offensive. They also make fun of the legends of English literature, Shakespeare being at the forefront, portrayed by Chase as if he was playing Mick Jagger. While he is painted as the primary villain in the story, his role is actually pivotal in the resolution of the plot. It is a totally different take on the Shakespeare you though you knew, funny, but obviously fictional and should be taken with a grain of salt.

You can tell if a comedy is successful when it gets a standing ovation during curtain call, as well as getting a roaring round of applause after every musical number, despite the songs not being that outstanding in terms of lyrics. Because it is making fun of both Shakespeare and Broadway, even the choreography in some scenes are influenced. There are several scenes in which the characters tap dance, and it is just so strange for the mere fact that renaissance ball gowns and that form of dance simply do not mix. And yet those scenes are among the most memorable because they really do stand out, in a good way, in spite of the gross mismatch.

The show has more than one highlight, with memorable scenes abound. There’s the tap dance showdown between Nick and Shakespeare, Nick and Nostradamus’ “A Musical”, and of course, Omelette: The Musical itself which is probably the most entertaining part of the show as it definitely brought the house down. These are just the musical numbers. Add the hysterical dialogue and you are in for a really entertaining theater experience.

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