Catch <em>Something Rotten!</em> At Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre

If you love silliness, musical comedies, and Shakespeare, you’ll will be served all three in Something Rotten! It’s an irreverent and naughty romp. 

Nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the Broadway musical is having its Northwest premiere at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre September 12th through October 1st. 

“Something Rotten!” is an original musical comedy, with and music and lyrics by brothers, Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, and book by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick.  

Directed by Casey Nicholaw, the show overflows with blatant double entendres, a daffy and delightful, layer-upon-layer of schmaltz landing somewhere between the antics of “Forbidden Broadway,” “Spamalot,” and “The Book of Mormon.”  One critic described the musical as “Mel Brooks on steroids,” while others dubbed it as an award-winning theatre director, choreographer, and performer. “A Valentine to Broadway musicals.”  

Once upon a “Rotten” time, back in 1595, there were two Bottoms (To pun or not to pun, that is the question.) Brothers Nick and Nigel–two aspiring theater toffs–are struggling to overthrow the theatrical throne of that upstart William Shakespeare, the reigning darling of Elizabethan “the-a-tah.” Or “thee-ate-her,” depending on whether you sat with the aristocracy in the galleries or stood in the pit with the commoners. 

While shy, clumsy, and gullible playwright brother Nigel admires Shakespeare, his older bro Nick hates the Bard. So he seeks out a soothsayer, Nostradamus—not the infamous seer, but his dotty nephew (his first name is Thomas)–who predicts the next big thing will be musical comedy. 

Cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour (Photo Credit Jeremy Daniel)

Cast of the “Something Rotten!” National Tour (Photo Credit Jeremy Daniel)

Right then and there, Nick determines to write the very first–before Shakespeare does. When he next gets word that Shakespeare’s new endeavour is titled “Omelette” (It’s actually “Hamlet.”), Nick has an “aha” moment and decides to poach the Bard’s idea. Of course, he’ll have to scramble if he wants to beat the Bard. It’s a heavy yoke to carry, and he’ll have to egg Nigel on.  

“Something Rotten!” opens with the song, “Welcome to the Renaissance”, and it’s delightfully downhill from there. The musical takes liberties galore. In a mash-up of characters, some are blatantly stolen from the Bard–Portia, Shylock, Bottom, and of course, Shakespeare. Instead of a Danish Prince, there’s a Prince eating a Danish pastry. And Bottom takes his moniker from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” when his character is turned into a donkey. 

Another first-act number, “A Musical,” is a showstopper, with mischievous wink-winks to a gaggle of musicals–“Rent,” ‘Pippin,” “Les Miserables,” “On the Town,” and “Annie,” and “The Lion King,” among others. At one point during the song, Nostradamus and the chorus men don sailor hats to carry on about nautical-themed musicals, including ”South Pacific,” “Anything Goes,” ”On the Town,” and ”Dames at Sea.” And they do all this in six hilarious minutes. You’ll even see Bob Fosse’s jazzy hands and a spin on the infamous Radio City Rockettes’ line dancing.  

Other songs include “Bottom’s Gonna Be on Top,” “Make an Omelette,” and “To Thine Own Self.” Shakespeare attacks his feather quill during a hissy fit over his writing, which leads to the tune “Hard To Be The Bard.” Of course, throughout the musical, there are rumors aplenty that his work is not always his own.  

Three of the cast members are joining the production direct from Broadway: Rob McClure as Nick Bottom, Adam Pascal, of “Rent” acclaim, as Shakespeare, and Josh Grisetti as Nigel Bottom. The touring cast also includes Maggie Lakis as Bea, Blake Hammond as Nostradamus, Autumn Hurlbert as Portia, Scott Cote as Brother Jeremiah, and Jeff Brooks as Shylock. 

An award-winning theatre director, choreographer, and performer, Nicholaw has received multiple Tony Awards nomination for his work on Broadway, and he received a Tony Award for co-directing “The Book of Mormon” and an Olivier Award for his choreography.  5th Avenue Theatre audiences will remember his Tony-nominated choreography for “Aladdin,” which he also directed.   

“Something Rotten!” is shameless, outrageous, and over-the-top, but there’s no cholesterol in this egg egg-stravaganza.  It won’t cause an attack—unless it’s an attack of the giggles. Maybe even guffaws.  

After all, thanks to the Bard we know that “all the world’s a stage,” even when you’re stirring up an omelet. Very few songs have been written about eggs. Only one song comes to mind—and it’s a stretch to call it music—“Chick, Chick, Chick, Chick, Chicken, Lay A Little Egg For Me.” And it’s doubtful that Barbra or Beyoncé will ever record it.  

That would truly be “Something Rotten!” 

“Something Rotten!” runs Tuesday through Sunday, September 12-October 1st at the 5th Avenue Theatre. Tickets start at $29, and are available at or the ox office at (206) 625-1900

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Starla Smith

Starla Smith

Starla Smith is a career journalist, writing features for such publications as The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily News, The Des Moines Register, Vibe and a prize-winning Gannett Newspaper. She helped launch Theater Week Magazine and eventually became its publisher. As a regular contributor to Playbill, her interviews and photos were featured in Playbill and Playbill-on-line. Smith was featured in the New York Times "Style" section for her "Word Portraits," specialized tributes, speeches, and presentation profiles. And she covered theater and features for City Search, Digital City, and the Tena Duberry WOW! Radio show. She previously served as astrology guru for Out Magazine, and she hastens to assure her readers that "Starla" is indeed her real name.

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