Review: 'Something Rotten' A Hilarious Romp Back To Shakespeare's Time

By: Joan Aucoin

Oliver Kuehn, Andrew Haber, Fiona McCray, Brynn Grambow and Emma Taylor in “Something Rotten” at the Academy of Performing Arts. COURTESY PHOTO

“When life gives you eggs, make an omelet,” sings the Academy of Performing Arts ensemble as they close the summer season with “Something Rotten,” which premiered on Broadway in April 2015.

Set in 1595 London, brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom find writing plays mentally challenging. Nick needs an idea, just one hit to turn everything around after their father died at sea. How about a play about an omelet spiced with a taste of ham? But Nick and Nigel have competition. Like a rock star, Will Shakespeare appears commanding the townspeople in the park. Bravo Shakespeare in the park! Hmmm…just like the Monomoy Players this summer in Chatham enjoyed by so many townspeople.

Robert Grady (Nick) and Oli Kuehn (Nigel) lead the troupe with the play’s theme, “God, I hate Shakespeare.” Grady is in fine voice, strong, definite in his every movement and storytelling. Kuehn has a softer approach to “Nigel’s Theme,” “To Thine Own Self,” and falling in love with Portia. Both actors truly perform like brothers eager to succeed in the field of playwriting, with modern-day references to plays now set to music.

Randy Doyle is truly the Bard, in bold voice leading the ensemble to “Will Power” and “Hard to be the Bard.” Expressive, quizzical, and hysterical, showing up at the magistrate’s court when Nick is on trial for vile offenses, penalty: beheading.

Denise Page is very sweet as Nick’s wife Bea, who bears their child but is ready to go to work to help pay the bills. Nick is her “Right Hand Man.” Brynn Grambow plays Portia, Nigel’s girlfriend, who sings “I Love the Way” as she loves poetry and encourages Nigel to “keep writing.” Frederic Carpenter is the Big Guy with the Big Voice as Nostradamus leading in “A Musical.” Andrew Haber appears as Brother Jeremiah who cautions and warns but joins with Nigel, Portia, and the Puritans in “We See the Light.” Bob Moore is the money lending Shylock who demands results and payback. Mike Barry is funny in several roles, but is center stage as the Master of Justice threatening Nick until the Bard appears threatening to write him into one of his plays. Ann Carpenter is Peter Quince, Terry Brown is a very comical Valet, Katie Doyle plays her flute as the Tap Queen, and Dale Johnson looks down from on high as the Astrologer. Karen Belafonte is Psychic Woman. Several Nauset High School students are members of the ensemble as Dancers, Puritans, Townspeople, and of course “Make an Omelet” as uplifting dancing eggs and chefs who all “See the Light.” Audience members cheered for Provincetown’s Pilgrim Monument in the final scene welcoming all to America, “where everything is new.”

Directed by Karen Hepinstall, by day a well-respected chemistry teacher and cheerleading coach at Nauset High School, whose daughter Emma is the Minstrel who welcomes all to the Renaissance in the opening number.  Hepinstall’s light-hearted touch has the company literally on their tippy toes, leads looking for the laughs, and the audience happily enjoying the hilarity of a modern-day look back to the Bard, Puritans, the justice system, women’s roles at home and in the work place, and playwrights dreaming of entertaining their audiences while making a few dollars along the way. Chris Morris’ keyboard with drummer inspires the Stars and Ensemble in 20 rousing songs in two acts. D. J. Kostka, choreographer, magically presents the troupe in finest form in fun ensemble numbers. Jennifer Kangas is the stage manager behind the scenes who brings the outstanding cast and the Bard to their rightful places.  Colorful period costumes and set design are perfectly in full view in this theater in the round.

“Something Rotten” is great fun for mature audiences, parents, children over 8, and all who love writing, words, storytelling, and teenagers forced to study Shakespeare. I shared my thoughts with my Eldredge Public Library memoirs class and highly recommend to my fellow writers at The Chronicle.

 DETAILS:

“Something Rotten”

At the Academy Of Performing Arts, Main Street, Orleans

Through Sept. 11, Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

Information and reservations: 508-255-1963, www.academyplayhouse.org