by: Madison Palmieri ’22 A&E Staff
Something Rotten! is something special. Providence College’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Film has been granted the privilege and honor of giving the show its northeastern regional collegiate premiere this past weekend.
The production offers something for everyone, from casual theatregoers to diehard fans of Shakespeare, who will be sure to catch every one of the many theatrical references made throughout the show’s two acts.
For the past couple of months, the talented cast and dedicated crew have worked tirelessly to bring the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit to life in the Angell BlackFriars Theatre in the Smith Center for the Arts.
Directed by Jimmy Calitri, with music direction by Lila Kane and choreography by Jennifer Hopkins, the show chronicles the misadventures of the Bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel. It follows their attempts to create a successful show in Renaissance-era England, in an attempt to compete with their rival, the beloved William Shakespeare. With a colorful cast of characters and outrageously hilarious musical numbers, the brothers and their friends learn about the importance of friendship, love, and theatre.
The characters, from the wittily-named Bottom brothers to the Bard himself, are expertly portrayed. The dynamic duo of Nick, played by Daniel Jameson ’21, and Nigel, played by Nolan Donato ’22, showcase their vocal powers in songs ranging from the upbeat, undeniably catchy “God, I Hate Shakespeare” to the heartfelt “To Thine Own Self,” and bring to life the close bond the brothers share.
The fierce feminist Bea, portrayed by Emily Smith ’20, and hopeless romantic Portia, played by Halle Pratt ’22, serve as more than mere love interests to Nick and Nigel, respectively. The two bring humor and heart to every scene they are in. Portia’s tyrannical Puritan father, Brother Jeremiah, depicted by William Oser ’19GS, likewise captivates the audience with an exaggerated, innuendo-filled take on Renaissance religion.
Rounding out the cast are Steven Sawan ’20, villainous, flamboyant Shakespeare; the nephew of the great seer Nostradamus, portrayed by Thomas Edwards ’20, who shares his gift of foresight; and members of the Bottom brothers’ troupe and ensemble.
The score is upbeat, and the opening number “Welcome to the Renaissance” gleefully starts the show off by describing new science and art. The closing song, “Finale: Welcome to America,” leaves the audience with hope for the possibility of new beginnings. Numbers such as “A Musical” and “To Thine Own Self” cleverly play with both Shakespeare’s works, especially Hamlet, and beloved musicals from Les Miserables and Rent to The Sound of Music and West Side Story, making it clear that Something Rotten! is a love letter to the art of theatre.
The catchy songs are performed with captivating dance numbers, notably the chorus line in “A Musical” and the egg-cracking antics of “Make an Omelette,” in costumes brilliantly designed by Anna Grywalski and her talented crew.
Whether audience members are unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s works or can recite any given soliloquy upon request, Something Rotten!’s humor, heart, and talented cast make it a must-see musical.
Those interested in attending the show can purchase tickets for the remaining performances scheduled for Nov. 1, 2, and 3 on the TDF website or at the Smith Center for the Arts Box Office.