POST: 'Something Rotten!' - trying to be better than Shakespeare
What's it about?
Something Rotten! follows the story of brothers Nigel and Nick Bottom as they attempt to write the first musical, in order to beat their rival William Shakespeare.
What'd I experience?
I had heard a lot about this show. And by heard a lot about it I mean I saw a ton of ads in the subway and I have one friend who always goes on and on about how awesome the show was. So to spare myself any further pandering and to settle my interest, I decided to check it out.
As soon as I saw the set of the show I knew I was going to have a great time. I love the Renaissance era; the art, the clothing, all of it, and to see that this show was set in the Renaissance... and the opening number was even called "Welcome to the Renaissance," where they rattled off all of the reasons why I love it. They showed the great poets, artist, and even a bunch of inventions - ranging from a new washboard to a modern day microscope, like one that looks like it was stolen straight from a lab. Yeah, I might have just been geeking out a bit but I found it really cool.
Next we were introduced to our two brothers, Nigel and Nick. Nick was the strong/caring leader of an older brother and liked to do things his way. Even when his wife tried to offer to help him by getting a job - she was great by the way, she was like a Renaissance era feminist and kept saying that "maybe women will be equal by the 1600's" - Nick kept on declining and saying that he could handle everything. You can't fault the man for wanting to help everyone and not wanting to burden anyone else, but sometimes you just need to ask for help.
Nigel, on the other hand, can only be described as that of an awkward teenager with the voice of Aziz Ansari (from Parks and Rec). That may sound like the most annoying combination in the world, but I absolutely loved his character. He spoke really fast and high pitched and everything he said kind of sounded like a question, and whenever someone complimented him he would be like "oh no, come on, I don't know, it's not that good." I guess I just connected with him in some way, because at some point in my life (and I'm pretty sure everyone else's) I was that "oh my god nooo" awkward kid.
Now, the whole point of the show is that Nigel and Nick are trying to write a play that is better than Shakespeare's work. So I guess that makes him their rival, but oh my god he was just so cool. I was trying so hard to find a way not to like the guy but damn was he cool. He was made out to be this rockstar - he wore eyeliner, and even wore like a Renaissance era leather jacket, which was the coolest thing I had even seen. All of his songs had these 70's/80's electric guitar riffs in them, and actually sounded a lot like Queen at some parts (seriously, "Hard to Be the Bard" could fit right into a Queen playlist). He was reciting various sonnets and lines as if they were rock songs, and the crowd was just going crazy, and I can't even lie, it was really cool. Yeah he acted like an ass most of the time, but he was just SO COOL. He really reminded me of Russel Brand in Get Him to the Greek or Forgetting Sarah Marshall, with that arrogant rockstar kind of vibe. There was a lot of "yeah you love me, don't you?" which I always love, probably because deep down I'm a little bit of that type of arrogant myself. Not in an all out "EVERYBODY LOVES ME" way but in a random "god I'm awesome" or "damn I look good today" way. Yeah it's kind of annoying to other people but it's good to love yourself every now and then.
My favorite part of the show came with Nostradamus, or rather his lesser known nephew, Thomas Nostradamus. Nick comes to him in order to look into the future and see what the next biggest play would be so that he could write it, but instead Nostradamus looks into the future and sees that the next big thing will be musicals. Apparently he looks so far into the future that he sees into our time, because the song that follows, "A Musical", is filled with references to modern day musicals. There's Chicago, Annie, Rent, and my personal favorite: Les Miserables. He was singing about how some musicals have no talking and are sung in a very dramatic fashion, to which Nick replies that it sounds miserable, and Nostradamus says that it's pronounced "Miser-ahh-bluh." I like snorted laughing at this point, to the point where the guy next to me looked over like "ugh be quiet." Come on dude, it's supposed to be funny, let me laugh!
On top of his musical vision, Nostradamus also informs Nick that the title of the next big play is going to be "Hamlet," excepts he kind of gets it wrong and instead says that it's going to be "Omelette." So then Nick sets out on a quest to write a musical about... eggs... yeah. The whole time Nigel, the one who does most of the writing, is saying "uhh, I don't know if this feels right" but Nick just keeps screaming "TRUST ME EGGS ARE THE WAY." It was fun to see the slow creation of this admittedly insane idea for a musical come together, but the real fun came when it was time to perform Omelette: The Musical. It followed the story of Hamlet (sort of at least) but quickly turned into a musical on literally how to cook an omelette. Like, heat the pan, put butter, crack your eggs, every little step. And of course Nostradamus's influence started seeping through more, because there were even more references going on in this song (including STOMP, which was really cool to see.) It was just hilarious seeing Hamlet twisted into this dinner setting that included a very in depth cooking lesson.