In This New Musical, Neither Broadway Nor the Bard Is Safe

It's Shakespeare's turn to be satirized. Enter Something Rotten!

By Jeanne Lyons Davis May 25, 2017 Published in the June 2017 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Image: Joan Marcus

The Book of Mormon satirized religion, Spamalot took a stab at politics, and—admit it—The Producers made you laugh at Nazis. Now, there’s Something Rotten!, an envelope-pushing musical that sends up both Broadway and the Bard. And judging from the 10 Tony Award nominations Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick’s show garnered in 2015, well, to thine own musical be true.

In Something Rotten!, Shakespeare—played by Adam Pascal on Broadway and in this national touring production—turns out to be a real ass: a drunken, narcissistic plagiarist who cares about fame, not poetry, driving rival playwrights the Bottom brothers (Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti) mad with envy and inspiring the song “God, I Hate Shakespeare.”

“He’s the rock star of the day and finds that being a celebrity is much more fun than doing the work to maintain celebrity status,” explains Pascal. “He loves to show off and peacock around, but he is not above stealing someone else’s work to get what he wants. He’s deeply insecure, but puts on an incredibly brilliant façade.”

The Bottom brothers decide to steal a show from their nemesis by consulting a soothsayer to find out what he’s working on. The visionary reveals that the future of theater involves acting, singing and dancing—all at the same time!—but doesn’t get everything right: Shakespeare’s next masterpiece, he says, will be called, um, Omelette. Whoops! And so the brothers’ Omelette, a ridiculous musical-within-a-musical, is born, and hilarity, of course, ensues.

Pascal likens his outlandish portrayal of Shakespeare to Dr. Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show crossed with Stewie Griffin from Family Guy. He says that he was drawn to Something Rotten! because it cracked him up. “It’s a story that, above all else, is fun,” he says. “The comedy, which is cleverly written and expertly executed, is universal and timeless. From grandparents to grandkids, everyone loves it.”

As for Pascal’s own feelings on the Bard? Once anything but a fan, the actor says he’s come around. “I loathed Shakespeare’s name in school,” he admits. “But now, I have a personal affection for this version of him because he makes me laugh.”

Something Rotten! June 6-11. From $30. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby St. 713-315-2525. 

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