I don't know why I waited so long to see this delightful show. The music isn't memorable, but the whole package is great entertainment. Since I saw the show toward the end of the run, there have been lots of cast replacements. I can imagine Christian Borle having a less forced take on William Shakespeare, played in this production as an arrogant rock star type, but Will Chase was amusing, though the role didn't seem a natural fit for him. I can't imagine anyone better in the leading role of Nick Bottom (not the same character as in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM) than Rob McClure. McClure has the ability to play an exhausting role without looking like he's working too hard. Everything seemed natural and he acted as if he was having the time of his life--on a Wednesday matinee. Brad Oscar was hilarious (as usual) as the soothsayer Nostradamus, who has the prophesy that musicals are going to be the wave of the future.
Why begin with the cast? SOMETHING'S ROTTEN is an old fashioned musical entertainment that depends on performers with both talent and personal charm, performers who bring something of their on stage personae to their roles (what was missing from the revival of FIORELLO). Without this, the show would fail. The show demands a cast of thirty, a fairly large band and lots of sets and costumes. The book lands all its gags, the lyrics are very witty. The weakness is the generic score. It's OK, but forgettable, hardly the match of Golden Age musical comedies. In its most energetic moments, the score sounded like something from the 1970s -- I kept being reminded of Charles Strouse's score for APPLAUSE, not one of the greatest in musical theatre history.
Fortunately the zany book hold's one's interest. For those who don't know, the show centers on Elizabethan playwright Nigel Bottom (Rob McClure), who is constantly overshadowed by Shakespeare. He consults a soothsayer who tells him that the answer is musicals, so he writes an awful musical, Omelet, based on another inaccurate prophecy. The result is something like the zaniness of a Marx Brothers movie. Some of the musical numbers are hilarious, greatly thanks to brilliant director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw who has created an A musical out of some B material. And thanks to the excellent cast.