“Something Rotten!” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – November 1, 2017


Broadway Across America – Arizona
ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

On Broadway, “Something Rotten!” was a delicious and witty look at the “birth” of the American musical theater set in the Renaissance of 1595 when Shakespearean plays were the talk of England.  The hilarious musical affectionately slams the Bard’s masterpieces and America’s contribution to world theater.  On Broadway “Something Rotten!” was a rollickingly entertaining and wildly madcap delight.  The touring version arrived Tuesday, October 31 at ASU Gammage as part of this season’s Broadway Across America series.

Like the season opener, “Fun Home,” ASU Gammage’s management under executive director Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, refused to provide this critic with media seats as the venue continues to arbitrarily censor selected local reviewers.

“Something Rotten!” received 10 Tony Award nominations in 2015 but failed to take home any prizes.  The show’s strength is its zany comedic approach as it affectionately mocks both Shakespearean plays and the musical comedy genre.  To fully appreciate the show’s delightful appeal though, every word of dialogue must be understood by every audience member or the show will flounder and make audiences wonder why it comes to town so highly touted.

The musical’s delightful score adds to the stage malarkey as did Casey Nicholaw’s original Broadway staging that so admirably sparked the original production’s zesty and breezy entertainment.  Unfortunately, the original staging was recreated for the tour with minimal input from Nicholaw.  The stars of touring cast include none of the original principals but one hopes they duplicated the original cast that starred Brian d’Arcy James, John Cariani, and Christian Borle’s superb comic acting, remarkable signing, and nimble but humorous dancing.

“Something Rotten!” should be a zany and cantankerous show if the touring cast equals the remarkable Broadway production.  Let’s hope that ASU Gammage’s problematic sound system that works admirably for some touring shows but fails miserably on others allows local audiences to hear all the show’s marvelously wry dialogue.

Reportedly, all “Something Rotten!” performances for the local run through Sunday, November 5 are sold out but interested patrons can call Ticketmaster at 800-965-6678 to see if any seats are available.