Something Rotten! is freshly frivolous

By Lucy Kramer, Staff Writer

Something Rotten!, which opened last weekend, has the audience cracking up all night with its satirical social commentary, flashy over-the-top dance numbers and witty script, delivered all perfectly by its talented cast. 

After producing the  absolutely heart-wrenching Rabbit Hole, Xavier Theatre has decided to take a complete tonal 180 with their second show of the 2022-23 season. 

Something Rotten! follows the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom (Matthew Callas and Anthony Contreras) who struggle to create the next big theatrical hit before their rival, heart-throb rock n’ roll sensation William Shakespeare (Ryan Whitford). 

When the looney soothsayer Nostradamus (Joe Mitchell) looks into the future, he sees that musicals will become an even bigger sensation than Shakespeare’s plays. Determined to become more famous than his adversary, Nick Bottom sets off to write the world’s first musical.

As soon as the show begins, the audience is immediately transported into the Renaissance era with the lively pop song “Welcome to the Renaissance.” The song serves as a perfect way to inform viewers about major historical events and important cultural aspects of the time needed to understand jokes or scenes later in the musical. 

Something Rotten! tells the Renaissance-inspired tale of the creation of the very first musical. Xavier Theatre’s performance of Something Rotten! delighted audiences last weekend with its brilliant comedy and execution.

Afterward, the show quickly transitions and the main characters, the Bottom brothers, are introduced. It becomes immediately apparent that the entire play would not be performed in period-accurate, old-English style but would instead poke fun at Shakespearean English in a way that blends it with modern humor. 

While the brothers are working on their mission, Nick’s wife, Bea (Emma Hunt), has her own set of goals toward which she is working. With a baby on the way, Bea disguises herself as a man in a series of comical gags where she obtains jobs that only men are allowed to have.

All the while, she exchanges witty banter with her husband and breaks the fourth wall with sarcastic jabs aimed at the misogynistic world in which she finds herself. Hunt executes her character excellently, with extremely on-point facial expressions and brilliant comedic timing.

The show also follows Nigel and his star-crossed lover Portia’s (Maria Zierolf) romance. Contreras and Zeirolf’s amazing on-stage chemistry had the entire audience rooting for their relationship that is somehow both innocent and chock-full of sexual innuendos. 

Despite the fact that Portia’s father, Puritan minister Brother Jeremiah (Anthony Frederickson), and Nick constantly intervene in Nigel and Portia’s relationship, their disapproval and hatred for one another is not enough to keep the couple apart.

 Even though Something Rotten! is a show that is several years old and has been performed countless times across the globe, the cast and crew wanted to incorporate their own unique spin on things. 

Mitchell inserts his own hilarious joke referencing the food on campus during one of his prophetic scenes. Choreographer Jenna Trienen integrates dance moves from other musicals during the song “A Musical,” and the entire ensemble interacts with the crowd during the song “Will Power” in a way that really brings the show to life. At one point, one lucky member of the audience is even brought on stage for a brief moment.

This show is certainly a must-see from Xavier Theatre, but if you did not get the chance to see Something Rotten! this past weekend, do not fret! Xavier Theatre will be putting on four more shows this coming weekend for Parents Weekend. 

Tickets are still available to buy online for the shows on Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.