If ever a musical could be described as crisp and snappy, “Something Rotten!” is it.
The high-energy ensemble delivers fun at a dizzying pace, so when the show slows down for romance, it’s sweet — but it’s those daffy, delicious scoops of spoof, brimming with snappy repartee and zesty high-jinks, that propels this show to new heights.
After all, the title has an exclamation point, which means it’s special!
The time is the Renaissance, specifically 1595, and William Shakespeare is the rockstar bard. Brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are playwrights desperately in need of a hit, and crave that same celebrity and fame. But disaster plagues their endeavors.
Until one day, Nick listens to a soothsayer, Thomas Nostradamus (not THE Nostradamus, but his neophyte nephew), who predicts that musicals — triple-threat shows with singing, dancing and acting — will be the next big thing.
“A Musical,” the fourth number, is indeed a showstopper, and elicited a lengthy, thunderous ovation opening night.
How the cast moves quickly and seamlessly from one musical parody to the next in a pastiche of Broadway’s greatest hits is impressive.
And when Nick asks Nostradamus to predict what Shakespeare’s next hit will be, however, he just misses the mark — proclaiming “Omelette,” not you know, that depressed Danish prince with family and girl trouble.
Oh, what wackiness ensues! Dancing eggs are their own wondrous sight gag. “Omelette — the Musical” is outrageous, although not quite on the same level as The Producers’ “Springtime for Hitler,” but pretty close.
The jokes fly furiously, and most land. With so many theater-insider quips and well-written zingers, there is little time to savor the best ones.
Of course, you will get the sly references if you are well-versed in Shakespeare and musical theater, but it’s not required. They’ll keep you in the loop, Cliff Notes’ style.
With moves like Jagger, charismatic Adam Pascal plays slick Will as a whirling dervish of preening rock ‘n roll excess and Vegas showman.
He’s got game, and swagger to spare — and digs in as an arrogant buffoon. But most importantly, Pascal’s voice is as powerful and gritty as it was 21 years ago when he set Broadway on fire as Roger in “Rent.”
His mega-watt “Will Power” introduction — complete with back-up dancers and swooning, head-banging fans — encapsulates all the clichés hilariously, and is reminiscent of “This Is Spinal Tap.”
He also shines on “Hard to Be the Bard,” a marvel of unbridled ego, fame’s downside and paean to the creative process.
Rob McClure, one of my favorite Muny headliners, is in his element as the downtrodden Nick, envious of Shakespeare and eager for that level of success.
His well-rounded skills as a performer are in fine form in the witty “God, I Hate Shakespeare” and the rousing “Bottom’s Gonna Be on Top” that closes Act I. “Make an Omelette!” defies description.
Nick’s single-minded stubbornness clashes with his insecure but very talented brother Nigel. Josh Grisetti is charming and delightful as the shy guy whose way with words wins over the heart of Portia, a Puritan whose overbearing, religious zealot father Jeremiah doesn’t approve of the relationship.
Scott Cote extracts many laughs by delivering double-entendres and flamboyant body language as the fire-and-brimstone preacher who gets served.
Autumn Hurlbert is another charmer as Portia, who falls hard for Nigel. The couple blends beautifully in the heartfelt ballad “I Love the Way.”
McClure’s real-life wife, Maggie Lakis, is a gifted comic foil with strong vocal chops, too. She plays supportive wife Bea, who wants to be a woman of substance, as best expressed in “Right-Hand Man.”
A real scene-stealer is Blake Hammond, who tickles the funny bone as the hapless soothsayer, whose vision of future hits is a hoot.
Grisetti, McClure and Pascal were part of the Broadway cast that signed on for the tour, and their ease with each other shows.
The tight-knit ensemble — including Leah Hofmann of St. Louis — showcases director Casey Nicholaw’s fluid choreography with dynamic flair and admirable pep.
The upbeat show flows smoothly, with little downtime, another element to cheer. It gets a little wobbly finding its conclusion, but sustaining that level of Pythonesque-South Park-Mel Brooks-ish mirth is a tall order.
High art, it’s not. Nevertheless, its cheeky wit and sublime fluff works on many levels — zippy wordplay, sterling comic timing, and splashy, fun production numbers.
Best of all, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously (unlike some other blockbusters they reference). You’re getting a love letter to musical comedy at the same time book writers Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell are sending it up.
The Kirkpatrick Brothers Wayne and Karey have written a fresh, original, clever score that can entertain even the grumpiest cynical theatergoer.
The tour is in its infancy — St. Louis is the third stop — and the performers’ precision and enthusiasm is evident.
Smiles are in abundance, a refreshing tonic for winter blues.
There may have been something rotten in Denmark, but it’s all good this go-round at The Fox.