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The Exquisite Smell of "SOMETHING ROTTEN" AT MMT - star performances! By John Dwyer


Maybe “Something’s Rotten” doesn’t have the best title. Could have been why I previously stayed away from this incredibly delicious musical that is so smart and outright hilarious. At Music Mountain Theater we have a near perfect production that is graced by such a good cast. How blessed MMT and our area is. In having such a wonderful talent pool that it can give us such a professional production, you swear that Equity is going to come in and raid the place pulling documented Equity professionals away and back to New York City. Oh, John, you say…you are gushing. And to you I say, shut up, you idiot. WTF do you know? Have you bought a ticket to offer another opinion. Not yet? Come back, after buying one and tell me otherwise. Conceding any small issue is just quibbling on your part. This is a wonderful frigging show that deserves to be seen for its witty book and its talented ensemble.


The story is certainly an interesting one. Many of us are familiar with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I myself once played Nick Bottom. Bottom in “Midsummer” was an amateur actor who is full of himself and provides comic relief in the play. He is a cocky buffoon in the Shakespeare play But in “Something’s Rotten,” Nick is the head of an acting troupe with a younger brother named Nigel, with whom he writes plays. The Bottom brothers are competing with Shakespeare for a theater audience. It is so frustrating for the Bottoms. Nick is married and is not making money. His wife has to go to work to support them. And ironically Shakespeare, who is super successful, used to work for them in their acting troupe. As Shakespeare is arrogant, a plagiarist, lifts local’s names and puts them in his plays… probably to create buzz…it is all too much for Nick Bottom to bear. He seeks help from a soothsayer to try to get a handle on the next big thing to hit the theater. And there lies the story. By seeing the future, can the Bottom Brothers succeed in theater and get butts in seats...or groundlings on the the ground? Within the fastest 2 ½ hours ever, you will get your answer.


John Fischer and Patrick Mertz are terrific together as Nick and Nigel Bottom. Their characters are written as complimentary personas. Nick is more assertive and practical. Nigel is romantic, a dreamer and unsure. The adorable pairing of an older brother and a younger one in their thirty-somethings. Fischer has been brilliant in “Peter and the Star Catcher” and “Matilda” at MMT. Mertz has been hilarious in “Elf” and “The Producers.” Great chemistry as the brothers between the two. Their numbers “God, I Hate Shakespeare” and “Bottom’s Gonna Be on Top” are golden. Also, great chemistry between Fischer and Fischer as husband and wife. Nick Bottom’s wife, Bea Bottom, is played by Jen Fischer, who happens to be John’s wife. This is casting heaven. Jen Fischer, last seen in “Viva Las Vegas” has star quality and a beautiful voice (ie. the song “Right Hand Man”), so of course it is a perfect match to be with her husband who has the same.


Louis Palena plays the villain/arch-nemesis in the piece, William Shakespeare. LOL. Love this idea. Just thinking about it is like thinking about "Bad Santa." When Shakespeare is a conniving douche, it makes you giggle. He is amazing in “Will Power” and “Hard to Be the Bard.” Jordan Brennan is a revelation as the prognosticator, Nostradamus. Brennan does a fun-tastic comic turn as a discombobulated prophet, who turns out is a 5 star hoofer. He heads a show-stopping musical number that brings down the house. Go see it…the title of the number and the number itself will be part of the reveal. But, he and Nigel (John Fischer) and ensemble leave it ALL on the stage. The energy has you agape with awe that so much can be packed into a production number.


Other characters in the show, include Portia and Shylock. Portia(Brianna Kane) is a Puritan girl, daughter of Preacher Brother Jeremiah (Jared Williams). She is pure and chaste…raised by her father to believe there is sin in the word sing and damnation in dance. Nigel Bottom and her fall in love and sing the charming “I Love the Way.” Ms. Kane is currently attending AMDA and is an amazing talent, both acting and vocally. Jared Williams delights as Brother Jeremiah. Great comic timing and an uncanny ability to be a priss and naughty at the same time. And "Bro” can sell a song, too, as seen in the production number “I See the Light.”


Cullen Hussey as The Minstrel has the song that you will remember the most, I predict. The opening number, which he "delivers" on, “Welcome to the Rennaisance.” With charm and ease, Hussey makes his mark and I am still singing it to myself. You can’t get it out of your head. Kudos to Roger Madding as Shylock and Mike Prikril as Lord Clapham. A huge thumbs up on the authentic and stunning costumes seen in this show.


To coordinate all of this beautiful meshugas (Yiddish for craziness) is quite the feat. As a groundling watching this show, I say “Huzzah” both to the show and the talented, hard-working, amazing director Jonathan Wierzbicki.


The show runs to June 18th. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.showclix.com/event/something-rotten-2023-mmt


Photos by John Posada

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