The merry whirlwind “Something Rotten!” arrives in South Florida on a raucous blast of catchy music, exuberant dancing and more than a few gleefully juvenile jokes. The play wastes no time taking aim at its obvious targets — William Shakespeare and Broadway musicals — and the more you know about both of those elements the more fun you’ll have at the show, which runs through April 2 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
The touring production carries over some of its Broadway star power with the terrific Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti as Nick and Nigel Bottom, brothers who can’t make a go of their theatrical dreams in the shadow of the great William Shakespeare (a sly, sexy Adam Pascal, also one of final Broadway cast members).
Nigel’s plays are beautifully written works of art, but Nick can’t mount a show or keep a patron because no one cares about work that doesn’t come from the pen of the mighty Shakespeare (whose talent, “Something Rotten!” suggests wickedly, is second to his gargantuan ego).
Desperate after learning his wife (Maggie Lakis, McClure’s real-life spouse) is pregnant, Nick hits on the idea of visiting a soothsayer (a broad, comic and uproariously funny Blake Hammond). His plan: To find out what Shakespeare’s greatest work is going to be and co-opt it for himself and Nigel. Naturally interpreting the future is tricky, and (hilarious) mistakes are made.
The beauty of “Something Rotten!” — written by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, with music from Kirkpatrick and his Nashville songwriter brother Wayne — is that the play never takes itself seriously. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, the show and its cast and crew are comfortable with the deliberate lack of sophistication. There are a quite a few jokes about erections, and if you think Nick and Nigel’s last name isn’t an opportunity for adolescent humor you haven’t heard “Bottom’s Gonna Be On Top,” the musical number that ends Act 1.
All of the musical numbers are well-staged, engaging and refreshingly unpretentious, from the stage-setting opener “Welcome to the Renaissance” to the show-stopping, name-checking “A Musical” to Shakepeare’s lament “Hard to Be the Bard.” Gags fly furiously, and the ensemble cast’s vibrant energy echoes throughout the theater. Like its egotistical, rock star Shakespeare, “Something Rotten!” just wants to have a good time. You will, too.
If you go
What: “Something Rotten!,” book by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick, music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick.
When: Through April 2; 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and March 29; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday; 1 p.m. only April 2.
Where: Au-Rene Theater, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.
Tickets: $35-$150; www.browardcenter.org