An Interview with Casey Nicholaw, Director & Choreographer of Something Rotten!

Elf BoxThere is something special about Something Rotten! Its score is magnificent, and its premise hilarious—its 10 Tony Award® nominations are a testament to this fact. But beyond that, there is something, or perhaps someone, that has helped unpack, explore and present its artistic brilliance; someone who has a knack for directing and choreographing original musical hits. That person is Casey Nicholaw.

A well-respected and renowned director, performer and choreographer, Nicholaw’s directing credits include Spamalot, Book of Mormon, Aladdin and Elf the Musical. His work features an impressive range of original musicals, and Something Rotten! is his most recent adventure.

After spending several years as one of the most in-demand dancers, singers and actors on Broadway, Nicholaw decided to pursue work as a choreographer and director. His first professional jobs were right here at The 5th Avenue Theatre as the choreographer for two productions in the early 2000s—the new musical The Prince And The Pauper in our 2001/02 Season and our spectacular rendition of My Fair Lady in our 2002/03 Season. These shows were the start of a brilliant career that included returning to The 5th to direct and choreograph the World Premiere of Disney’s Aladdin. His work has also been seen on our stage in our productions of The Drowsy Chaperone and Monty Python’s Spamalot.

Whether it’s an original musical or a production anchored to source material, the best musical theater directors, choreographers, lyricists and composers pick and choose which projects to work on, which are the most interesting and compelling to them as an artist. Each show is different and unique and appeals to different artists in different ways.

“For me, it has to be smart writing. That’s the most important thing, because it’s also easier to stage. Something that has a buoyancy to it, and also a lot of heart. That’s what I like most.”

Casey Nicholaw had worked previously with Tony®-winning producer Kevin McCollum, and it was this relationship that would facilitate the meeting between Nicholaw, John O’Farrell (Something Rotten! bookwriter), Karey Kirkpatrick (Something Rotten! bookwriter, composer and lyricist) and Wayne Kirkpatrick (Something Rotten! composer and lyricist).

“It sort of started with Kevin, just because of our relationship, and then we met with Karey, Wayne and John, and they sort of knew what they were going to do, but it wasn’t written yet. I saw three songs and two scenes. But I loved their take, and they were so passionate about it, so I said, ‘Sign me up.’ I loved the idea of the story and where it could go.”

Although Nicholaw and McCollum were familiar with the world of Broadway, John O’Farrell and the Kirkpatricks— although greatly successful and experienced in their fields—were new to Broadway and musical theater. But this fact, which might be of concern to any other renowned director, was not a problem for Nicholaw.

“They’re complete musical theater nerds anyway. So they already loved it and were very well versed in all of it. They had to learn the nuts and bolts of things, but their instincts were really good. I just think they’re funny, and that’s the most important thing. They’re clever. Their lyrics are really good. They’re very talented, but funny trumps everything.”

As the four of them began working together, the show started to develop and take shape, resulting in an hilarious script and delightful, toe-tapping score. One song in particular stands out as a clear sign of a creative team in sync. Titled “A Musical,” it lovingly parodies musical theater and form, paying homage to classics such as South Pacific, Anything Goes, Annie and many others. The lyrics are a series of Easter egg references for the musical theater nerds in the audience, while the showstopping choreography leaves all audience members in stitches.

“I knew it had to build and build and build. When Glen Kelly, our dance arranger, went to town–I’ve worked with him on a bunch of shows now, and when we started in pre-production, he’d go away and start writing dance music. He’s the one who came back with all the references. I really wasn’t sure at first, I thought it might be too in-jokey. But once we started playing with it, the dancers were like, ‘Oh my god, are you kidding? We have to do this.’ It ended up working well.”

Something Rotten! is at The 5th Avenue Theatre from September 12 to October 1. To find out more and purchase tickets, click here.


Creating a Completely New Musical: The Development of Something Rotten!

Most Broadway newcomers don’t get their first show produced by Tony Award-winner Kevin McCollum, and they don’t typically land Tony-winner Casey Nicholaw as their director-choreographer. But brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick and British comedy writer John O’Farrell, the creators of the Tony Award-nominated Something Rotten!, aren’t like most Broadway first-timers.

Growing up in Louisiana, the Kirkpatrick brothers fell in love with musical theater, appearing in high school shows and going to what’s now the Baton Rouge River Center to see touring productions of Broadway hits. In 1983, Karey Kirkpatrick saw his first show on Broadway, My One and Only, starring Tommy Tune and Twiggy, at the St. James Theatre – the theater that’s now home to Something Rotten!.

Continue reading “Creating a Completely New Musical: The Development of Something Rotten!”

Musical References in Something Rotten!

Something Rotten! pokes fun at many musical theater conventions. The show-stopping number “A Musical” takes that one step further and gives a giant wink to many famous musicals that came before. Can you identify all the Broadway shows they call out in the song? Click the photo above to watch.

If you’re not sure about all the references, not to worry! This video is a handy primer that tells you which shows Something Rotten! is mocking—but all in good fun. After you’ve seen the video, you’re ready to see the whole hilarious show live in the theater.

Something Rotten! is at The 5th Avenue Theatre from September 12 to October 1. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

An Interview with Steve Bebout, Something Rotten!’s Associate Director

Q: Can you take me back to when you started working on the big show-stopping number “A Musical”?

A: I work with Casey [Nicholaw, director & choreographer], and he has an associate choreographer John MacInnis as well. And Glen Kelly, who is the dance arranger. The authors had written this song, and it had a verse and a chorus and a bridge. But when you need to expand upon that to make it larger, something that can have a dance break, you need to have some more music. Sometimes it’s just an extension of what’s already there, and sometimes it’s brand-spanking new.

Continue reading “An Interview with Steve Bebout, Something Rotten!’s Associate Director”

Shakespearean References in Something Rotten!

Something Rotten! is jam-packed with references from William Shakespeare’s plays and life. How many can you spot? Here are a few of those quotes, characters and parts of plays that will help you unlock the topsy-turvy world of the Renaissance.

Continue reading “Shakespearean References in Something Rotten!”

Go Bottoms Up and Behind the Scenes with Rob McClure

BroadwayWorld is known for its in-depth everything Broadway content, including entertaining, interesting video blogs hosted by actors on Broadway and on Tour. Rob McClure, who plays Nick Bottom in Something Rotten!, hosted a series of vlogs as the show made stops around the country. Learn more about the show, the actors and their adventures by watching the series below!

Find out more and buy tickets to see Something Rotten! at The 5th from September 12 to October 1.

An Interview with Something Rotten!’s Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell

An interview with Something Rotten!’s Karey Kirkpatrick (Book, Music & Lyrics) and John O’Farrell (Book)

Q – Can you talk about the initial idea/concept?

K –I think it was a series of conversations that happened over a series of meetings, Christmas dinners, since Wayne [Kirkpatrick, Karey’s brother] and I don’t live in the same town.

We were big history buffs. It just started, wouldn’t it be funny if Shakespeare’s London were a lot like what Broadway was like in the ‘30s? If the writers had agents, and the Tin Pan Alley scene. The early jokes were like, the agents were William and Morris. The law firm was Rosen, Crantz & Guildenstern. So that was an early idea. At one point, it was, what would it be like to be writing in the shadow of William Shakespeare, after Romeo and Juliet just opened?

Early on, we came up with two writers who weren’t brothers, just partners, trying to beat Shakespeare at his own game, going to a soothsayer to try to find out what the next big thing in theater is. And that guy is saying, “Musicals.” So what would it be like writing the first musical that ends up being a mashup of musicals and Shakespeare plays?

Continue reading “An Interview with Something Rotten!’s Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell”

Spotlight on Our Circles Members

Our Circles Members help make The 5th’s new musical productions possible

A BIG thank you to our Circles Member donors, who through their gifts help support all of the artistic work of The 5th: on stage, in new work development and for our education programs—which served nearly 75,000 young people in our community last year.

For our 2016/17 Season, some of our Circles Members helped make the new productions of The Secret Garden and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion come to life. Our “Secret Garden Keepers” and “Romy and Michele Booster Club members” designated their gifts to support the productions.

The Romy and Michele Booster Club with the cast and creatives from the show at the Producer’s Dinner held at the home of Board Member Pat Kennedy and his wife Melissa Ries.

This has been a wonderful and exciting opportunity for Circles Member donors to help The 5th create new productions, while getting in on the ground floor and experiencing the productions as they evolve. The Secret Garden Keepers and the Romy and Michele Booster Club members were invited to attend a kick-off party with the creative team; to attend hosted rehearsals; to meet and spend time with the writers, composers, creatives and actors; to attend the opening night performance and post-show cast party; and were recognized along with their pictures as Executive Producers or Creators in all show publications. It has been rewarding and fun for everyone to have our Circles Members play an important part in this process!

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If you would like to hear more about becoming a Circles Member and/or helping The 5th bring new works to our audiences by designating your support to a production, please call our Development office at 206-625-1418. You can also find more information at our website.

Hairspray The Musical: An International Sensation Born at The 5th

By BRIDGET MORGAN, Senior PR and Communications Manager

There is such joy in the act of creation, particularly when your creation becomes something bigger than its creators and the sum of its parts; something enjoyed and embraced by many; something that impacts the lives of everyone it touches. And that is the nature of The 5th Avenue Theatre and its role in the creation of the musical Hairspray, an international mega-hit performed on Broadway, on the big screen, on TV and on professional and amateur stages around the world. Continue reading “Hairspray The Musical: An International Sensation Born at The 5th”

Staff Spotlight: Director of Sales and Guest Services Robert Phillips

What is your role at The 5th? I’m the Director of Sales and Guest Services.  I think it’s one of the best jobs here, as all of my departments are the ones that get to interact with our guests and subscribers on a day-to-day basis.

Birthplace? New Hartford, Connecticut

How long have you worked here? 16 months.

What has been your favorite show while you’ve been here? The Rising Star Project production of How to Succeed. I saw this show the morning after my day of interviews for my job here. I didn’t fully understand what Rising Star Project was when I was watching the first act and was blown away at intermission to learn that it was high school students doing everything.

What are your hobbies outside of work? My wife and I love to take road trips around the beautiful Northwest (and beyond!).  I also enjoy everyone’s favorite winter Olympic sport, curling, and am a member at the Granite Curling Club here in Seattle.

What do you love about The 5th? I love how unique and special this theater is. Most large cities in this country have a multi-thousand seat theater that does some musical theater in addition to other works and presentations. Very few have the access to a theater like The 5th. We’re very unique to Seattle!