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.

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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”

“Welcome to the Renaissance”: The World of Something Rotten!

The Renaissance

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.

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Getting the Joke: The Humor 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.

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Something Rotten! Will Feature Broadway Stars

Something Rotten! will be making its Northwest Premiere (finally) this fall, and we couldn’t be more pleased to announce three of the stars of the show, all of whom are reprising their roles on tour after portraying these same characters in the Broadway production!

Broadway’s Rob McClure plays older Bottom brother, Nick Bottom. He received Tony, Drama League, Astaire and Outer Critics nominations, and won Theatre World and Clive Barnes awards for the title role in Chaplin: The Musical. He’s been seen on Broadway, including in Something Rotten!, as well as numerous appearances on film and television. (McClure is also taking the stage with his real-life wife, his “right hand man,” Maggie Lakis – he plays her husband in the show!)

Josh Grisetti is playing younger brother Nigel Bottom. His Broadway credits include Something Rotten!It Shoulda Been You and Broadway Bound. His Off-Broadway credits include Enter Laughing, Rent, Peter & the Starcatcher and more. Follow Josh on Twitter and Instagram!

And last but certainly not least, Adam Pascal is stepping into potentially the biggest shoes in the history of theater – those of William Shakespeare. Pascal will be familiar to folks as the original Roger Davis in the Off-Broadway, Broadway and London productions of Rent. (He also reprised his role in the 2005 film.) He was the original Radames in Broadway’s Aida, starred as the Emcee in Roundabout’s Broadway production of Cabaret, Huey Calhoun in Broadway’s Memphis and Billy Flynn in Broadway’s Chicago. Most recently, he was seen as Chad in Broadway’s Disaster.

Check out this video of Adam Pascal as rock star Renaissance man William Shakespeare in “Will Power.”

Find out more about the amazing cast, and purchase tickets, at our website.