Arts & Culture

Review: ‘Something Rotten!’ is anything but

Cast of “Something Rotten!” national tour.
Cast of “Something Rotten!” national tour.

What’s the opposite of rotten? That’s what “Something Rotten!” is. Fresh, good, sublime, charming, pleasing — all words to describe this musical. A musical of jokes about and homage to musicals, with all the elements of song and dance and explained with hilarious aplomb.

It’s on stage through Sunday at the Durham Performing Arts Center, and this really is the show to see. Of the dozens of Broadway tours that have come to DPAC since 2009, this is the funniest. Seriously. You can’t help but laugh repeatedly throughout this show.

Much of the appeal comes in the performances of the Bottom brothers, who were in the Broadway cast as well.

“Something Rotten!” is the story of Nick Bottom (Rob McClure) and Nigel Bottom (Josh Grisetti) — and their attempts at theatrical competition with William Shakespeare, the Renaissance rock star (Adam Pascal). The writing and comedic timing of this show is just spot on with deliveries by McClure, Grisetti, Pascal and the rest of the cast. Blake Hammond plays Nostradamus — not that one, but Thomas — a soothsayer who delivers snippets of what would make a hit play but mixed up in hilarious fashion. He does nail what a musical is, however, and indeed, “nothing’s as amazing as a musical.”

You laugh so much you can still feel it in your face after the applause ends and you’re walking to your car. With that smile, you’re humming and singing “Welcome to the Renaissance” and don’t care if others hear you. Then you realize they’re singing it, too.

“Something Rotten!” is a show you’ll want to see again just to catch all the references to theater and literature, and there are quite a few of them. You don’t need to know your musicals and theatrical trivia to enjoy this show, nor Shakespearean canon, but you’ll be a bit more entertained if you do.

Shows don’t come along every season that are this across-the-board appealing. The fact that it’s a fresh story, not the musical version of something else, makes it all the better.

The Bottom brothers have their hit, and it is Something Rotten!” indeed.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan

GO & DO:

WHAT: “Something Rotten!”

WHEN: Through Sunday, April 9

WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center

123 Vivian St., Durham