Neil Brewer & Andrew McKill in Something Rotten. Photo: Charles Baglan

Something Rotten

Music & lyrics by Karey Kirkpatrick & Wayne Kirkpatrick
Book by  Karey Kirkpatrick & John O’Farrell
Directed by Cyndi Powell Chaney

A review by Brian Kennedy

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Brian Kennedy. All rights reserved.

With hilarious performances all around, Something Rotten at Clarksville Little Theatre was something far from rotten.

Something Rotten takes place during the Elizabethan period in England when a then-contemporary William Shakespeare (David Harbeson-Borgelt) is a rock star. He wears black leather such as the classic rock gods while others on the stage are in more period-appropriate peasant outfits. Girls swoon for Shakespeare, and he’s the life of all the parties as he seemingly comes up with classic play after classic play.

This infuriates Nick Bottom (Neil Brewer) and makes it clear in the very funny and appropriately titled, “God, I Hate Shakespeare”. Shakespeare was a member of Bottom’s troupe until Shakespeare struck out on his own. All Nick and his brother Nigel (Mark Merk) have done is struck out.

In desperation, Nick finds a soothsayer, Nostradamus (Andrew McGill), er, well, Thomas Nostradamus, a relative of the other Nostradamus. McGill is a riot as his character looks into the future and leads Nick and the ensemble through Act 1’s best number “A Musical”, explaining musicals are what’s coming in the future of theatre. He’ll later have a vision of what is believed to be Shakespeare’s next musical, Omelette, and Nick will try to create that show for himself with, obviously, very funny results.

The entire cast clearly had fun with this show. Most of the uptempo numbers were performed and danced (with Rebecca Brewer’s choreography and Chris Harbeson-Borgelt’s musical direction) with such passion it didn’t feel like they were acting, just appropriately enjoying the moment. 

On top of the fun, several key characters also had plenty of chemistry and attitude. The love story between Nigel and Portia (Courtney Raines), a Puritan who secretly loved poetry and plays, was wonderful to watch unfold. Meanwhile, Portia’s equally strict Puritan father Brother Jeremiah (Jason Potts) deployed a fittingly serious attitude that made him stand out from the cast but also made his inadvertent innuendos all the more comical.

Then, there’s Nick’s wife Bea (Morgan Lebeau). She has no problems putting Nick, and sometimes Nigel, in their places. It was a pleasure watching her during her sassy song “Right Hand Man” or watching Bea take on supposed “man” jobs, including a lawyer and bear dung cleaner. 

The only bump in this otherwise smooth road is during the Act II song “Hard to Be the Bard” when Shakespeare reflects on the struggles of his success. It was hard to hear David Harbeson-Borgelt and The Bard Guys easily drowned him out. 

Something Rotten was incredibly entertaining thanks to passionate performances and great character work. This is without question Clarksville Little Theatre’s best show of the 2023-24 season.

Featuring Seth Bard, Neil Brewer, Rebecca Brewer, Kathy Todd Cheney, Gary Crockett, Kelly Doyle, Holden Faith, Lee Gibson, David Harbeson-Borgelt, Magdalen Hartman, Brad Lambert, Morgan LeBeau,Andrew K.McGill, Erin McMahon, Mark Merk, Jaxson Plum, Jason Potts, Mike Price, Courtney Raines, Nina Surbaugh, Maximilian Valentine, Toni Vincent, Erin Wilson, & Jupiter Zorn

Something Rotten

May 12, 13, 19, & 20 @ 7:30 pm
May 14 & 21 @ 2:00 pm

Clarksville Little Theatre
301 Montgomery Avenue
Clarksville, IN 47129

Brian Kennedy is a nearly life-long Louisville resident who has performed in plays since 2004. He also wrote extensively about the Louisville theatre scene for and from 2009-2015. Currently, he maintains the theatre blog LouBriantheater. When not involved in the theatre scene, he is an avid runner, participating in 5Ks throughout the state and in southern Indiana.