Thursday, October 25, 2018

#TBT: CD Review: OBCR: Something Rotten

Okay, so this isn't too far back for a throwback, but roughly three and a half years ago, a rarity opened on Broadway: an original musical based on an original idea with a completely original score. I fondly remember Something Rotten as a fun, clever show, full of delicious puns and smart quips that this English major geeked out to for two and a half hours.

The geeking continues with the terrific cast recording, featuring a tuneful score by the Kirkpatrick brothers, who brought their first score to the Big Time. Maybe "Tuneful" doesn't quite capture it...maybe earworm-ful score is more like it. Whenever I listen to it, it takes days to get "Welcome to the Renaissance" out of my head.

"Welcome to the Renaissance"
It is also great to revisit this little gem because it preserves some great work by a number of Broadway favorites, including Brian d'Arcy James, John Cariani, Brooks Ashmanskas, Heidi Blickenstaff, Kate Reinders, Brad Oscar, and Tony-winner Christian Borle. And the ensemble (especially as eggs) is top-notch, both on stage - triple-threats, all - and vocally on this recording.

For me, the stand out numbers include Blickenstaff's tour-de-force, "Right Hand Man," both of Borle's ego-driven romps, "Will Power" and "Hard to Be the Bard," and d'Arcy James/Cariani's numbers "God, I Hate Shakespeare" and "To Thine Own Self." But the most fun to listen to, without the need for visuals is the awesome "A Musical." It's the ultimate meta "in joke" for theater geeks. I love the lyrics (all so true) and picking out all the lyric and musical references to great musicals.

And there are worse things than humming "Welcome to the Renaissance," I suppose.

Grade: A


  • The show ran for 32 previews and 708 performances, opening April 22, 2015 at the St. James Theatre, closing there on January 1, 2017.
  • Something Rotten was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, winning one - Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical, Christian Borle (Shakespeare).
  • The show was conceived, written and composed by American brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick, with the book co-written by Englishman John O'Farrell.
  • To date, this is the only Broadway show that features Nostradamus as a character.

Here's a look back at the show:

(Left) John Cariani, Briab d'Arcy James
(Right) Brooks Ashmanskas, Kate Reinders

Heidi Blickenstaff, Brian d'Arcy James

Shakespeare! Christian Borle and the Men

"A Musical"
Brian d'Arcy James, Brad Oscar and Company


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