MIDLAND, Mich. – Tickets are on sale for Midland Center for the Arts’ engagement of the national Broadway tour of Something Rotten! on stage Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Set in the ‘90s – the 1590s – this hilarious smash tells the story of two brothers desperate to write their own hit play while the “rock star” Shakespeare keeps getting all the hits. When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theater involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first MUSICAL! Recipient of 10 Tony® nominations, including Best Musical. Music & lyrics by Karey Kirkpatrick & Wayne Kirkpatrick. Choreography by Casey Nicholaw. Book by John O’Farrell & Karey Kirkpatrick.
Tickets for Something Rotten! start at $36 and can be purchased at www.midlandcenter.org or through the Center Ticket Office, 800-523-7649. The Broadway & Beyond Series is sponsored by Chemical Bank.
The Making of Something Rotten!
Most Broadway newcomers don’t get their first show produced by Tony Award winner Kevin McCollum, land Tony winner Casey Nicholaw as their director-choreographer, or score a major hit when they opt to open directly on Broadway. But Karey Kirkpatrick, Wayne Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, the creators of the ten-time Tony Award-nominated Something Rotten!, are unusual Broadway first timers.
Growing up in Louisiana, the Kirkpatrick brothers fell in love with musical theater, appearing in high school shows and going to what’s now the Baton Rouge River Center to see touring productions of Broadway hits. Careers took the Kirkpatrick brothers and O’Farrell down different creative paths: Karey to success as an animated-film screenwriter, songwriter and director; Wayne to acclaim as a Grammy Award-winning songwriter; the British O’Farrell to multifaceted writing success.
The seeds of Something Rotten! were sewn in the mid-1990s when the Kirkpatricks started kicking ideas around.
“It was, ‘What would it be like to be writing in the shadow of William Shakespeare, after Romeo and Juliet just opened?,’” Karey recalls.
“Eventually it was, ‘If we’re going to do this, we should really get serious about it,’” Wayne says.
The brothers buckled down, and in 2010, Karey reached out to producer McCollum, his friend since working together years earlier at Disney World.
“We called Kevin and said, ‘What do you need?’ He said that Avenue Q was three songs and an idea,’” Karey says.
Karey brought in O’Farrell, whom he’d met writing Chicken Run, to help craft the book and the brothers created the music and lyrics. What they had, after a multi-year developmental process, is a buoyant show set in Shakespeare’s day that imagines the creation of the very first musical.
Something Rotten! centers around Nick and Nigel Bottom, brothers desperate for a hit in Elizabethan London, where William Shakespeare is a rock star-like god of the stage.
Nick’s wife Bea, a can-do gal in the style of cross-dressing Shakespearean heroines, tries to help. Nigel falls for a pretty Puritan named Portia, whose daddy disapproves. Flawed soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus looks into the future and predicts Shakespeare’s next big hit will be a musical titled Omelette.
Something Rotten! is laced throughout with humor for Shakespeare aficionados and musical theater geeks.
For the no-longer-green creative team, Something Rotten! has been a challenge, an education and a joy, an experience they still savor as the touring production plays cities all over the United States.
“This was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but [it was] so rewarding to sit in a theater and watch all these amazing contributions from people who took it beyond our idea to create this magical, happy experience,” Wayne says.
A success since it opened on Broadway in April 2015, Something Rotten! is laced throughout with humor for Shakespeare aficionados and musical theater geeks.
“I think it doesn’t matter how much you know,” says director-choreographer Nicholaw, whose other current Broadway shows are Aladdin and The Book of Mormon. “My nieces and nephews say it’s their favorite show that I’ve done, and they don’t know any of the references.”
As O’Farrell observes, “If it works as a musical for people who don’t know musicals or Shakespeare, then I’m happy. It’s about show business and putting on a show. The show works on many levels, but the main level it works on, I hope, is that it’s just a great fun night out.”