Don’t take it lit­er­ally ‘Some­thing’s Rot­ten’ couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth as this ripe PPAC per­for­mance de­liv­ers a good time.

Broad­way mu­si­cal of­fers Shake­spear­ian good time at PPAC

Woonsocket Call - - FRONT PAGE - By KATHIE RALEIGH

PROV­I­DENCE – “Some­thing Rot­ten!” is just plain fun. This mu­si­cal is packed with all kinds of laughs, from the snicker at a clever phrase to all-out belly laughs. It has a Grammy-nom­i­nated score, fab­u­lous cos­tumes and a great set. But the main rea­son to see the tour­ing pro­duc­tion now at the Prov­i­dence Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter is the cast. Three of the prin­ci­pal ac­tors ap­peared in the show on Broad­way, and ev­ery­one else could have. The tal­ent is amaz­ing from top to bot­tom. Ac­tu­ally, the Bottoms – Nick and Nigel Bot­tom – are at the top, as the lead char­ac­ters. The brothers are 16th-cen­tury play­wrights la­bor­ing in the shadow of the most fa­mous play­wright of the Re­nais­sance, William Shake­speare. Nigel is a gen­tle soul, a poet, while Nick is the am­bi­tious one; he wants to write a show that will outshine Shake­speare. In a des­per­ate quest for the next big thing in the­ater, Nick con­sults a sooth­sayer, Thomas Nostradamus, who pre­dicts shows in the future will com­bine singing, danc­ing and act­ing. Nick is skep­ti­cal about ac­tors sud­denly burst­ing into song, but Nostradamus makes a good ar­gu­ment, so Nick goes for it. The ups and downs of putting to­gether this new-style pro­duc­tion are first and fore­most very funny, but told with just enough heart to sus­tain in­ter­est in the brothers’ en­deav­ors. What makes “Some­thing Rot­ten!” different and so very en­ter­tain­ing is its ref­er­en­tial writ­ing. Fa­mil­iar Shakesperean quotes turn up in di­a­logue and song. Al­lu­sions are made to more iconic mu­si­cal the­ater pro­duc­tions, old and new, than you can count, from “Any­thing Goes” to “Cats,” “Rent” and “Les Mis­er­ables.” The in­ven­tive ways brothers Karey and Wayne Kirk­patrick work th­ese con­nec­tions into the score, and into the book by Karey Kirk­patrick and John O’Far­rell, make for on­go­ing laughs of recog­ni­tion. The show-stop­ping ex­trav­a­ganza A “Mu­si­cal” in Act I has a head-spin­ning col­lec­tion of ref­er­ences to fa­mous mu­si­cals, iconic chore­og­ra­phy and even venues, in­clud­ing a spec­tac­u­lar Ra­dio City Mu­sic Hall­style kick line, per­formed here in the “puffy pants and pointy boots” of the El­iz­a­bethan era. The hu­mor also comes in the char­ac­ters. Shake­speare is por­trayed as a rock star, and when he gives an out­door read­ing – the ori­gin of Shake­speare in the Park? – he’s ac­com­pa­nied by lights, mu­sic and the Chip­pen­dale-like Will Power Backup Boys. As Will, Adam Pas­cal is so different from his well­known Broad­way role as Roger Davis in “Rent”; here he em­braces the Bard’s celebrity per­sona in hi­lar­i­ous ways. The cast has mul­ti­ple bright stars, start­ing at the top with the Bot­tom brothers. Tall and gan­gly Josh Grisetti is per­fect as Nigel, the goofily sen­si­tive poet, while Rob Mc­Clure is a mem­o­rable Nick; he’s an ex­pres­sive co­me­dian and ac­tor who brings loads of per­son­al­ity to the role. Both are funny in large part be­cause of their foibles. Mag­gie Lakis is a stand-out as Bea, Nick’s take-charge wife whose will­ing­ness to do non-tra­di­tional work is yet an­other ref­er­ence, this time to women’s roles; she also has a pow­er­ful voice. Au­tumn Hurl­bert is a lovely vo­cal­ist as well as a hoot as Por­tia, who falls for Nigel de­spite her fa­ther’s dis­ap­proval – a fa­mil­iar mu­si­cal-the­ater trope. Iron­i­cally, that fa­ther, the rigidly Pu­ri­tan Brother Jeremiah, can’t seem to speak with­out in­ad­ver­tent dou­ble en­ten­dres, spo­ken with per­fect de­liv­ery and re­ac­tion by Scott Cote. And no­body will for­get the work of Blake Ham­mond as Nostradamus, the sooth­sayer whose pre­dic­tions are not pin­point ac­cu­rate. Be­fore reach­ing a po­ten­tially melo­dra­matic but pre­dictably happy and ap­pro­pri­ate end­ing, “Some­thing Rot­ten!” does it all – mu­sic, dance, com­edy, drama – and does it ex­tremely well. It’s Broad­way brought to Wey­bos­set Street. Don’t miss it. Per­for­mances of “Some­thing Rot­ten!” con­tinue through Sun­day at the Prov­i­dence Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, 220 Wey­bos­set St. Tick­ets are $41 to $88 and avail­able at the box of­fice in the the­ater, by call­ing (401) 421-ARTS (2787) and on­line at www.ppacri.org.

ABOVE: Au­tumn Hurl­bert and Josh Grisetti in “Some­thing Rot­ten,” a Broad­way mu­si­cal play­ing through Sun­day at the Prov­i­dence Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter.

Jeremy Daniel pho­tos

LEFT: Adam Pas­cal and the show’s cast.

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