PTC’s ‘Something Rotten’ Presents Something Hilarious and Fresh

“Something Rotten” (Courtesy

By Luke Jackson


When I review in-person events, I always bring a pen and notepad. Having something physical in front of me to record thoughts and feelings as they come always helps with my writing process. I’ve never felt that I am missing something when I avert my eyes for a few seconds to get a thought down. That is, I never felt that way until I saw “Something Rotten.” I, and my fellow audience members, were absolutely glued to the stage throughout the entire production. It’s not that I didn’t want to look away and take notes — I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

“Something Rotten” felt large right as we took our seats — an impressive Renaissance era set sat in front of us gleaming with a quality I have come to expect from Pioneer Theatre Company. As the show began, it was clear that the quality also extended to the cast.

Light-Hearted, Crude, Comedic

Theatre presents a unique challenge which doesn’t exist in other forms of media. There are no trailers to give potential patrons an appetizing taste of what is to come. So, by simply attending, the audience has placed faith in the show that it will indeed entertain. The opening number to any musical is imperative in gaining the trust of audiences. “Welcome to the Renaissance” opens “Something Rotten” and triumphs in welcoming the audience. It perfectly takes us into the satirical and light-hearted world of Shakespeare’s renaissance and introduces a modern comical twist.

Almost every line contains hidden innuendo or double entendre. The product is a brilliantly written, overtly sexual show which had the audience in stitches from start to finish. What elevated this writing was a cast who had a wonderful grasp on comedic timing and the art of physical comedy. If this wasn’t enough to get you hooked, the production also succeeds in the musical department. The songs are charming and catchy. I’ve been humming them since the curtain closed.

The Best of What PTC Has to Offer

The narrative of “Something Rotten” follows playwright Nick Bottom as he tries to find success in a Shakespeare-dominated industry. When he meets soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus, he gains a glimpse into the future of theatre and learns of the popularity of musicals. Nick, with his younger poet brother Nigel, decides to put on the worlds very first musical.

This story is clever, heartfelt and, at its core, a love letter to theatre and musicals. Dripping with references from everything from Thomas More to Les Misérables, “Something Rotten” is a musical about musicals for those who love musicals.

While I personally adored this angle, I do however wonder if it holds the show back in terms of accessibility. For the less experienced theatre goer it may leave something to be wanted if references don’t land. Yet, “Something Rotten” sports just enough crude and phallic humor that I imagine it will keep everyone engaged and smiling.

“Something Rotten” represents the best of what PTC offers. A wonderfully professional and large-scale regional production which showcases both local and national talent. If you are looking for some approachable theatre, or just an exciting night out, “Something Rotten” is a must see.


“Something Rotten” closed on March 12, but PTC’s next production “Fireflies” opens April 1. Ticket information can be found here.


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