“Something Rotten!” is the hilarious Broadway hit about two brothers who set out to write the first musical during the time of Shakespeare. It plays at the DCPA from October 17th to October 29th. For tickets and information go to the “Something Rotten!” page at denvercenter.org.
DENVER (CBS4) – “Something Rotten!” was nominated for 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Set in the time of Shakespeare, it depicts the hilarity that ensues when two brothers try to make a name for themselves by write the very first musical.
“Something Rotten!” (credit DCPA)
One show stopping number sets the stage for the whole premise, and one actor steals the show during that number. Blake Hammond transforms into Nostradamus, soothsayer and cousin to the famous one, through the magic of makeup, crepe hair, and a simple love of the character.
“I’m the character guy who is a little bit crazy, is a little kooky. And so not everyone gets to be as free as I do with their choices. I love being able to just sort of have it land how it lands that afternoon or evening, and just enjoy living in that moment,” Hammond told CBS4.
Actor Blake Hammond does his stage makeup. (credit CBS)
Hammond allowed CBS4 to see how he transforms into his character. Every step seemed so sublte, a line here, a highlight there, but slowly the character came out in all his loud, flamboyant, soothsaying glory.
“Do you feel transformed?” CBS4’s Greg Moody asked.
“I really…I do. I feel like I look so different that when we started 12 minutes ago, that it does feel like it brings me to another place for the show,” Hammond explained.
Hammond in his stage makeup. (credit CBS)
It’s that character that he carries to the stage for a show stopping number that sets up all the action and half the jokes for the rest of the show. It’s a tremendous display of the beauty of stage craft, and an actor’s skill.
Just how does an actor decide on how to play Shakespeare? Is the Bard funny, sad, or pretentiously serious? Those are the questions that Adam Pascal tangles with as he plays Shakespeare in “Something Rotten!”
Adam Pascal plays “Shakespeare” in “Something Rotten!” (credit CBS)
In the hit musical, the Bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel, are trying to outdo another playwright, a guy known as Shakespeare. And he really is a rock star here, which is great because you really can play Shakespeare any which way you want.
“You kind of have poetic license to assume he was anyway you want him to because we kind of don’t know,” Pascal told CBS4.
Outside of the works themselves, that famous first folio, plus a few scraps of memory from contemporaries, we really don’t know all that much about Shakespeare. So really you can pull out all the stops.
“He’s the quintessential rock star of our day. What a rock star in 2017 might look like. Someone who draws on all the classic rock stars from the 60’s and the 70’s, you know, Freddie Mercury, and Mick Jagger, and David Bowie. He’s definitely a peacock and a strutter,” Pascal explained.
So really you can pull out all the stops, and have a great time doing it, which in the end, is really what “Something Rotten!” is all about. Taking a bit of the wind out of the Bard and giving the audience a sense of raucous fun that only live theater can give you.
When you put together the costumes for a Shakespearean play or a big Broadway Shakespearean spoof, like “Something Rotten!”, you can go traditional and you can wind up lugging a lot of cloth around the stage.
“You wouldn’t believe how much detail is in these costumes. And I think, something that people don’t realize is there’s a lot of dancing in this show, tap dancing, some of these costumes weigh a ton,” said Autumn Hurlbert, who plays “Portia”, the Puritan love interest.
Autumn Hurlbert plays “Portia” in “Something Rotten!” (credit CBS)
In fact, much of what you’ll see on stage in “Something Rotten!” is not even a fabric usually considered for clothing.
“It’s set in the renaissance so obviously silk would have been extremely expensive. It’s a lot of really hardy materials, and some of these costumes are actually upholstery fabric,” Hurlbert explained.
Hurlbert, a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado Theater Department, loves the way they’ve costumed this big, funny Shakespearean musical.
“Bold, beautiful colors, and a lot of the boys actually…they actually wear a lot of leather in the show. Anyone associated with Shakespeare wears a lot of leather,” Hurlbert told CBS4.
What they’ve done with “Something Rotten!” is place the production firmly in the days of the Bard, but twisted the story with rare delight, in order, to take it off in new directions that you never even thought existed. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s a musical.
There is being married on stage, and there is being married in real life, then there is the rare opportunity to do both.
“I tend to say that I think we’re a little closer to Nick and Bea than I care to admit,” said Rob McClure, who plays Nick Bottom in the Broadway musical “Something Rotten!”
Maggie Lakis and McClure are married in real life and on stage, and it gives them a little dose of reality on stage.
“Getting to perform together as a married couple is easier because we are married in real life and get that dynamic. And I hope that our real chemistry reads on stage,” McClure told CBS4.
On the other hand, that chemistry of knowing each other can also catch them a bit off guard.
“Well, we know each other better than anyone else would know each other, so we can tell when something else is going on or something’s wrong, we can help each out. But there is a weird thing, the first time we start rehearsing he’ll start acting at me. And I’ll be like, ‘You’re just acting,'” Lakis said.
“When you know each other so well there is a moment when you’re like, ‘Don’t pretend at me. I can see through this,'” McClure added.
It’s just part of the fun that makes up “Something Rotten!”, a look at Shakespeare as you’ve never quite seen him before.
Critic At Large Greg Moody’s Review:
You sit down, the music starts, and you smile. And then you begin to laugh, and that laughter doesn’t stop for the next two hours.
“Something Rotten!” is a Shakespearean spoof that retells the earliest beginning of Broadway’s musical past. Two brothers, Nick and Nigal Bottom, are determined to out do Shakespeare, who is the rock star of his age. Out do him with the next big thing in shows.
And what a show it is. A great cast including, Blake Hammond, Adam Pascal, Rob McClure, Josh Grisetti, Maggie Lakis, and Autumn Hurlbert, rockets this show along, never giving you a chance to catch your breath.
It’s goofy, it’s funny, it’s musical, and it’s the kind of Broadway that everybody can love. It’s just too much fun.