God, I love “Something Rotten”


Rachael Kapoor

Matthew Contes (’25) as Nostredamus and Shray Sharma (’25) as Nick Bottom, dancing during the song “A Musical”.

Vivian Xie

     This past weekend, New Theater transformed into the 16th century English Globe Theater for South’s production “Something Rotten.” When it was first published in 2015 by playwrights Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, the musical received raging reviews and won numerous awards. At South, spectators seem to react the same. Save for the unendurable stench and the fruit-bombardment common in Shakespeare’s time, the audience was not so different from Shakespearean groundlings, erupting into uncontrollable fits of laughter and unable to leave their seats for fear of missing a moment of the story being staged.  

     Set during the English Renaissance, “Something Rotten” follows Nick Bottom and his brother Nigel, who run a failing theater troupe. When the show’s antagonist, William Shakespeare, announces his newest play, the brothers’ only patron, Lady Clapman, threatens to withdraw her funds unless they come up with another play by the next morning. Her ultimatum sends the brothers on a dizzying search for inspiration, one that somehow includes the black plague, a maniacal prophet that urges the production of an omelet-oriented musical, a love-at-first-sight, a painful heartbreak, degrading encounters with the acclaimed William Shakespeare, and last but not least, instructions to prepare a delectable omelet. 

     Many attentive Broadway fans in the audience caught the references made to modern musicals—Annie, Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King to name a few—and others in the audience recognized the nod to Shakespeare’s plays. What all audience members could not have  missed is the glaring talent of this spring musical’s cast. 

     Shray Sharma (‘25), who played the hero Nick Bottom, brought a sense of joy, humor and charm to the character that was simply delightful to watch. He fully embraced the ridiculousness of the role, from his over-the-top facial expressions to his exaggerated physicality. His delivery of the character’s many one-liners was spot-on, and he had a natural charisma that made Nick Bottom an instantly likable character. Sharma’s powerful voice and high-energy dancing such as “Bottom’s Gonna Be On Top” and “It’s Eggs!” was both hilarious and impressive.

     Tarun Yanamandra’s (‘24) performance as Nigel Bottom was simply superb. He brought a depth of emotion and vulnerability to the character that was both touching and authentic. He skillfully portrayed Nigel’s struggles as a writer and his complicated relationship with his brother Nick, and also conveyed a range of emotions from despair to hope to joy, making the character feel fully realized and relatable.

     The much-feared bard, William Shakespeare, was [CONTINUE HERE] played by Ethan Chang (‘25). Commanding the stage with the confidence and arrogance possessed only by one of our greatest playwrights, Chang’s flamboyant strides across the stage and wild dance moves enchanted the audience as they hung onto his every word. 

     The humor in “Something Rotten!” far exceeds what the audience expected from a musical about William Shakespeare. Stocked with plenty of clever word plays and a plethora of raunchy jokes, there is something to laugh at no matter who the audience is. In addition to the plot, the cast completely embraced the absurdity of this musical, elevating the humor. 

     Emily Quigley (‘23) played Nick’s wife Bea. Her impressive range of impersonations and her frequent jabs at the microscopic role women in society added another dimension to the witty humor of this musical with observational comedy. Sophomore Matthew Contes (‘25), who played the erroneous soothsayer Nostradamus, seamlessly mastered the art of comedic-timing. With his impeccably calculated hesitations and flawless deliveries, Contes performed many of the musical’s most iconic moments such as “A Muuusical” and “Ommmelet.” Both Larson Gevirtz (‘24) and Rachael Kapoor (‘23), who played Brother Jeremiah and Lady Clapham respectively, played their characters with a commanding presence that was both menacing and hilarious. Gevirtz captured his character’s clashing interests with expert precision, putting on the face of a deranged puritanical leader yet also showing hints of fascination with the theater, which is something that is prohibited within his religion. Kapoor, similarly, embodied the dramatic mannerisms of her character with exaggerated struts across the stage and plenty of scornful “humphs.”

     Despite the over-the-top nature of the musical, “Something Rotten!” is still very much grounded in the realistic experiences of human beings. Sophia Kravets’s (25) performance as Nigel’s star-crossed lover, Portia, is an excellent example of this musical’s relatability. Kravets expertly conveyed the behavior of an enchanted daughter whose father is enraged by her newfound lover. Many of the audience members were easily able to empathize with her conflict between passion and responsibility. Similarly, Gurneel Batra (‘26), who portrayed the enthusiastic yet disregarded patron Shylock, skillfully performed his character’s love for theater and his desperation to partake in it, creating a character that the audience was able to root for. 

     Along with several outstanding dancers as Bard Boys and members of The Troupe, a live ensemble, and the behind-the-scenes crew (aka A-Team), everyone turned in a stunning effort to enhance this entire production. Audience members left South’s Globe Theater this weekend with unbridled joy and an invigorated admiration for 16th century literature, modern Broadway and the incredible talent among Pirates.