By BILL BERRY, Producing Artistic Director, and ALBERT EVANS, Artistic Associate
DID SHAKESPEARE INVENT THE MUSICAL?
Well, no. But—despite what Something Rotten! implies—neither did his rivals. Still, there are striking similarities between Shakespeare’s plays and our modern musicals.
Four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare’s legacy is everywhere—in our language, our notions about “genius,” even our conception of what it is to be human. So of course we’ll find his ghost still haunting our theaters, telling us how to write, mount, and see plays. Shakespeare’s scripts include well over a hundred songs, making them function, at moments, as actual musicals. Some of the music survives, and over the years Shakespeare’s lyrics have been reset thousands of times by popular and classical composers. Continue reading “The Musical’s The Thing”
There 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. Continue reading “An Interview with Casey Nicholaw, Director & Choreographer 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!”
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.
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”
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!”
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 (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”
Something Rotten! transports today’s audiences from the seats of a Broadway house across the Atlantic and back through the history book pages to Renaissance England. But what is the Renaissance, and how did it change England in the 16th century? The word “renaissance” is French for “rebirth” and was a term used to describe the period roughly between the 14th and 17th centuries when society was marked by great advancements in art, science and culture. It is believed that the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy, in the 14th century after the Fall of Constantinople and the Roman Empire. During this period, artists, scholars and scientists moved to Italy to continue their work. Patrons, wealthy families of renown in Italy, like the Medicis, provided creative minds with great sums of money to create art and innovate to further advance the family’s popularity and power. The period saw advancements in art, literature, music, politics, religion, science, philosophy and a revived interest in the humanism of the Greeks and Romans. Some of the most notable inventions of the time were the telescope, microscope, printing press, advanced uses of gunpowder and artillery, and a flushing toilet. The most prominent artists and figures of the time include Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas More, Galileo, Martin Luther and several more. In the next few hundred years, the Renaissance moved outward from Italy to its neighboring countries, including England.
Continue reading ““Welcome to the Renaissance”: The World of Something Rotten!”
The laugh lines in the Broadway hit Something Rotten! flow from different sources.
Some come at the expense of William Shakespeare, the rock star of his day, here played as a world-weary writer who finds being famous so much more enjoyable than actually coming up with new ideas.
Some are pointed at musical theater itself, a veritable feast for fans and geeks who adore Rent, Cats, A Chorus Line, Chicago, Les Misérables, Annie and dozens of other iconic musicals from the Broadway cannon.
Continue reading “Getting the Joke: The Humor of Something Rotten!”