Monday, 18 April 2016

Broadway Review: Something Rotten! starring Brian d'Arcy James & Christian Borle

Something Rotten
St James Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 23rd March 2016

Something Rotten! transports audiences back to the 1500s, following the Bottom brothers as they take on William Shakespeare and create the first ever musical. Having opened on Broadway last year, Something Rotten! has a genius score written by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick. With theatrical references galore, the show truly is stagey heaven.

Casey Nicholaw's production is packed full of wit. It's like The Book of Mormon meets Spamalot - each musical number makes an impression whilst the show points fun at itself throughout. The highlight of the night comes towards the beginning of the piece when Brad Oscar and Brian d'Arcy James perform the magnificent number 'A Musical' which references countless shows - the writing is exceptional, it has to be one of the most spectacularly showstopping musical numbers on Broadway. 

I was already familiar with the cast album prior to seeing Something Rotten! (it's an absolute must-have); whilst I wasn't disappointed with Nicholaw's superb staging of the musical numbers, occasionally I found the book, by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, disappointing. The subplot feels like it's just there to fill time and the text is nowhere near as funny as the music. 

It was such a joy to finally see Brian d'Arcy James onstage. Both his vocals and comic timing are spot on - he carries the show effortlessly and is everything you could possibly want from a leading man. Christian Borle has an absolute ball rocking out as The Bard (aka Shakespeare) whilst Heidi Blickenstaff is a dream as Bea. Blickenstaff gives a masterclass with her rendition of 'Right Hand Man', it's just a shame that her part is underwritten - I wanted more of her!

Something Rotten! is certainly a crowd-pleaser - I heard all sorts of strange cackles and snorts from those sat around me. It's a fun, fast paced show which shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Something Rotten! plays at the St James Theatre (246 West 44th Street).
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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