Regional Premiere of ‘Something Rotten!’ comes to Jonesborough
By Pam Johnson
The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is thrilled to kick off their 2021/22 season with the most hilarious musical ever, Something Rotten! Join the fun on the streets of Renaissance London as the unfamiliar and ridiculous concept of a musical is introduced to society.
“This is the funniest musical I’ve ever seen,” said director Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt. “And we have assembled the most talented cast. There are a lot of new faces, along with some of our regulars, and the pairing of them together is quite remarkable. This show is fun from the beginning to the end.”
“The story follows two brothers, Nick (Andy Rogers) and Nigel (Will Stephens) Bottom,” said choreographer Jessica Shelton, “who want to be great playwrights like their competitor William Shakespeare, but he seems to steal their glory at every turn.”
In the show, the Bottom brothers realize they need to come up with a new idea to win over the crowds, so, through what some would consider devious means, they discover the concept of a musical. But Shakespeare is in the shadows watching them.
“You don’t have to love Shakespeare to come see this show,” said Lucas Schmidt, who plays Shakespeare. “You don’t even have to like Shakespeare to come see it. In fact, you’d enjoy this show if you hate Shakespeare as much as someone would enjoy it who loves Shakespeare.”
Something Rotten! delivers fantastic musical numbers, including “Hard to Be the Bard,” which gives you a glimpse of Shakespeare’s struggles as a writer, and makes you both love and hate him at the same time. Other songs that made the show a hit on Broadway include “A Musical,” “The Black Death,” and “Will Power.”
And where would a play that’s somewhat about Shakespeare be without some forbidden love? Enter Portia (Parker Dugger), the scandalously-poetry-loving daughter of a Puritan (Father Jeremiah, played by Mike Musick), who falls in love with Nigel Bottom.
“This is Portia’s coming-of-age story,” said Dugger. “She’s finding out who she is, and what she loves and who she loves.”
Her father — who cringes at the mere suggestion of poetry and theatre — is not pleased, but will that stop the love affair? You’ll need to see the show to find out.
Something Rotten! not only guarantees entertainment and laughter, it also delivers some deeper messages.
“To me,” said Rogers, “this show is about the choice between following fame and following your heart. It’s about integrity and self-discovery in the midst of jealousy and envy. Sometimes looking within is a more fruitful search than looking into the future.”
Ross-Bernhardt added, “One of the show’s messages is, to thine own self be true. You’re unique, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
You’re invited to come and see how this show speaks to you. It may be a good time of much needed laughter, or maybe you’ll come away with something more. (Do note, Something Rotten! has a PG-13 rating.)
“If you’re looking for a really good laugh especially coming from the year that we’ve had,” said Tiffany Matthews (Bea Bottom), “this is the show to come and see. It will lighten your mood. It will make you happy. And it will remind you of why you love the theatre.”
Something Rotten! is directed by Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt, assisted by Andee Atkins, choreographed by Jessica Shelton and stage managed by Joe Smith. Rounding out the cast are Lorianne Carver, Kelcie Cornett, Ian Corriere, Stephen Cradic, Janette Gaines, Ryan Gray, Joe Gumina, Shawn Hale, Catherine Hammer, Mika Hoilman, Chris Jones, Caleb Knisley, Rebekah Knisley, Bennett Little, Bill Livesay, Brooklyn Shelton, Sharon Squibb, Corey Tickles, and Hollie Wright.
Shows run Thursdays through Sundays, Aug 26 – Sep 12. Tickets are $17 general admission, $15 for students and seniors. There is also a special group rate for parties of 15 or more. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423-753-1010 or go online to jonesboroughtheatre.com. The theatre is located at 125.5 W. Main St., Jonesborough, TN.
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