Theatre Under the Stars
Something Rotten!
Book Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell
Music and Lyrics
Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick

When & Where July 2–August 27, 2022 at 8pm; Performances alternate evenings (7pm on Fireworks Nights July 23, 27 & 30)| Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park

Production Manager Richard Berg Director Rachel Peake Choreography Nicol Spinola Music Director Brent Hughes Technical Director Mathew Oviatt Fight Director Nicholas Harrison Intimacy Director Jessica Anne Nelson Set Design Shizuka Kai Costume Design Stephanie Kong Lighting Design Robert Sondergaard Sound Design Bradley Danyluk Stage Manager Philomena Sondergaard

Reviewer Christian Steckler

Theatre Under the Stars shows are always a highlight of summer entertainment in Vancouver, and this production of Something Rotten! certainly delivers. This rollicking, at times naughty, musical is hilarious at every turn, cleverly written, extremely well staged, and brilliantly performed. The acting, singing and dancing are superb, with sets, costumes, light and sound that render the execution seamless.

Something Rotten! Is set in Renaissance England, with Shakespeare the celebrity of the day. His fame is envied by many who wish that there were some portion of praise and fame to be shared among other playwrights and performers. The show recounts the struggle of one such troupe to gain recognition in the heady Renaissance atmosphere celebrating innovations in thought, attitude, and opportunities of the age, in social surroundings of pious religious disapproval.

Rachel Peake directs the performers to fill all corners of the stage with meaningful movement, carefully guiding the audience’s focus to nuance, as well as to central action. The company of singers and dancers deserves rich praise for delivering delight throughout the show, brilliantly showcasing the choreographic talent of Nicol Spinola and the musical direction of Brent Hughes. Shizuka Kai’s sets are wonderfully adaptive to the various scenes, and Stephanie Kong’s period costumes are eye-popping! Together, they work to create a flow of colourful movement that enriches every moment of the performance. The colour and excitement sparkle thanks to masterful, spot-on lighting and sound, compliments of Robert Sondergaard and Bradley Danyluk.

With all the refinement of production in place, it falls on the central cast to carry the show. They succeed superbly in every case, not just in acting, but in dance and song as well. Kamyar Pazandeh shows overwhelming talent as an ambitious Nick Bottom, out to snatch a share of the spotlight presently monopolized by Shakespeare. He relies on his sensitive, naive brother, Nigel, beautifully played by Vicente Sandoval, to write the script that will launch them to fame. Katie-Rose Connors delights as Nick’s faithful wife, Bea, toiling and standing by her husband in his struggles to succeed. In desperation, Nick consults Thomas Nostradamus (of obvious lineage and reputation) for insights into the future success of his nemesis, William Shakespeare. Jyla Robinson dazzles as the not-so-accurate-reader-of-the-future-as-his-predecessor, Thomas. The plot thickens as a rakish Shakespeare, played by Daniel Curalli in a shining performance, discovers Nick’s scheme. He works to trick the naive Nigel who has fallen in love with the daughter of a Puritan hard-nose. Cassandra Consiglio impresses as the sweet Portia, who uses this forbidden love to defy her preacher father, the stalwart, stuffy Brother Jeremiah, masterfully played by Matt Ramer.

The intrigue on all these fronts results in raucous collisions of hilarious consequences that make this a fabulous example of what real talent, at all levels, can achieve - an evening of absolute delight for an audience brought to its feet at its conclusion.

© 2022 Christian Steckler