Something Rotten! goes down easy | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Review

Something Rotten! goes down easy

Two brothers try to steal from the Bard in Marriott's entertaining take on the Broadway musical comedy.


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Set in 1595 during the glorious reign of Elizabeth I, this 2015 musical romp (book by John O'Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick, music and lyrics by Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick) begins with an opening number, "Welcome to the Renaissance," so rousing and energetic, packed with clever lyrics and great dance moves (choreographed by Alex Sanchez), we expect the rest of the production, directed by Scott Weinstein, will blow the roof off of the Marriott. It does not.

Oh, the story is amusing enough, if a little silly—two brothers, trying to write a hit show in London, enlist the help of an eccentric soothsayer to steal Shakespeare's next hit before he can write it. And some of the songs that follow almost reach the heights of the first number ("God, I Hate Shakespeare" just kills). But the characters are flat. Many of the songs are just forgettable. And the show's climax, a crazy pastiche of musical theater jokes, is underwhelming.

The fault may lie, partly, with the production, filled as it is with just-good-enough performers who do their jobs (remember their lines, don't trip over the furniture) but leave us wanting more. The exceptions are Alex Goodrich, quite winning as a young man yearning for love and success, and Adam Jacobs, who really rocks as Bill Shakespeare, superstar. Still, though Something Rotten! is almost always entertaining, the way an old reliable sitcom can be, you don't leave the theater thinking, "Wow! that was great!"  v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →