After the pressure-filled phenomenon that was “Hamilton,” SHN’s Orpheum is host to “Something Rotten!,” a riotous delight of a show for Shakespeare and musical theater fans.
The zippy 2015 Tony nominee for best musical — some have called it a mashup of “Shakespeare in Love,” “The Producers” and “Spamalot” — is a real charmer, filled with plentiful laughs, insider musical theater jokes, clever wordplay, glitz and glamor and outright silliness: It even has a chorus line of tap-dancing omelets!
Set in 1590 Elizabethan England — the show, with a book by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick, and music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick — details the plight of playwright brothers Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel Bottom (Josh Grisetti), who can’t catch a break because wordy Will Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) is sucking up all the glory.
From the beginning, it’s a hoot, with the “Pippin”-reminiscent Minstrel (Nick Rashad Burroughs) leading the opening number “Welcome to the Renaissance,” with the greeting, “While witches are burning and wars tend to start/ We bring you moments of culture and art,” before Nick shares his disgust over Shakespeare’s success with Nigel, a poet who actually wants to emulate The Bard.
With his sassy, feminist wife Bea (Maggie Lakis) working, and a baby on the way, the desperate Nick engages a soothsayer.
The fellow, Nostradamus (Blake Hammond) tells him Shakespeare’s future, greatest work will be about a prince eating a danish, visited by a ghost, and called “Omelette.” Even more outrageous, the actors will break out into song and dance in the middle of it.
By the end of the hilarious, apex of the show, the dazzling number “A Musical,” Nick (who at first called the notion “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard”), is won over, and so is the audience.
The consequential plot is filled out as Nigel signs on, and meets a cute, oversexed Puritan girl Portia (Autumn Hurlbert), whose father (Scott Cote) prances like a drag queen. Meanwhile, silver-jacketed rock star Shakespeare gets wind of the project, backed by Shylock (Jeff Brooks), adding to the intrigue.
Director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw (who helmed “The Book of Mormon”) keeps the uniformly solid cast and action moving, staying just a step ahead of folks in the audience as they revel in digs about “Cats,” “Annie,” “Les Miz” — and many more.
Presented by SHN
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes Sept. 10
Tickets: $45 to $214
Contact: (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com