Something Rotten! is that increasingly rare beast in musical theater: an original with no thanks due to any prior movie or book — well, except for Shakespeare. But then again this might not be the Shakespeare you'd recognize. And it's very, very silly.
Both those points were what attracted Autumn Hurlbert to the musical developed by John O'Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick (book) and Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick (music and lyrics). "It's just really funny. You're seeing something new and I think there's humor for everyone: lowbrow humor, highbrow, physical. Our goal is to make you happier on the way out than you were coming in."
Mixing fact and theatrical fiction, Something Rotten! tells the very original story of two brothers, Nick and Nigel Bottom, who run an actors troupe in the time of William Shakespeare (that’s the 1590s).
Jam-packed with silliness, songs and characters, the national tour comes to Houston courtesy of BBVA Compass Broadway at the Hobby. Shakespeare is all the rage, which makes it tough for the Bottom brothers to secure backing for their own efforts.
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Hurlbert plays Portia, the Puritan young woman who becomes Nigel's love interest. “It’s more of an homage to characters within Shakespeare’s plays. The best part is no one knows anything about Shakespeare other than what he wrote. So it’s fun to create this rock-star modern persona of Shakespeare,” she says.
Nick steals money to see a soothsayer and asks him what the next big play will be, and is told it’s a musical. The brothers get busy, but don’t exactly follow a straightforward path. Shakespeare himself gets into the competition when he hears that the brothers are trying to steal his play, appearing as Toby Belch.
You don’t have to know Shakespeare to recognize all the characters and allusions, but if you do, Hurlbert says it'll be Easter eggs galore.
Performances are scheduled for June 6-11 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org. $30-$90.