“Something Rotten”

Do you love theater? Well, so does this show! “Something Rotten” first opened on Broadway back in 2015, just in time to remind audiences how a musical is really done (after The Lion King and Wicked, before Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen.) “Something Rotten,” written by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell tells the story of the (fictional) origins of musical theater during the height of Shakespeare’s popularity, when he was “The Bard” and every other writer was simply “A Bard.”

With both the Ivy Substation and the Kirk Douglas still dark, it’s a moment to head out of town for a live show. The Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks provides a sizable stage for 5 Star Theatricals to set the scene, and show off the costumes by Will Brittain in a loving homage to classic musical theater costumes throughout it’s (still) short-lived history.

I was fortunate enough to have a seat so close to the stage that I could see where the beautifully painted fabric set backdrop was folded at times, the glimmering of the costumes, and the emotion from the performer’s faces: The focus is on Nick and Nigel, who are just a bit desperate to write a hit play. 

People have problems with Shakespeare – Nick Bottom (Justin Michael Wilcox), portrayed as the pubescent and usually disappointed brother of our other protagonist, Nigel Bottom (Frankie Zabilka.) The feminist minded love-interests; Bea Bottom (Brittany Anderson) and Portia (Bella Gil), all reacting to the swaggy sex-god of London himself (you guessed it), Will Shakespeare.  Truly terrific work was done by the ensemble, made up of Madison AiSanaye, John Paul Batista, Amanda Carr, Joah Ditto, Augusto Guardado Laura Leo Kelly, Drew Lake, Colden Lamb, Tyler Marshall, Jalon Matthews (Brother Jeremiah) AJ Morales, Elizabeth Sheck, Bella Silecchio, Scott Spraggs, Julia Springer, and Racheal Yeomans. Mitchell Johnson shone as the Minstrel, the first to step on stage.

The show follows brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, London-based writers/directors/actors who simply loathe their ex-friend Shakespeare, who parted ways with the Bottom’s theater company for not being able to act. However – bit of a spoiler alert-  Will found his own way in life, writing plays and working his way up to becoming a household name for centuries to come. Nick, hoping to make a better life for his wife Bea goes to see a psychic in hopes that he will be able to see an end to Shakespeare’s popularity, and what the next big “thing” in theater will be. “It’s…A…musical!”

Utilizing a live orchestra, this show is a wonderful evening of live theater. Charming and funny, beautifully produced, it’s a show that brings in all the best of musicals, Shakespeare, and brilliantly staged theater.

Something Rotten runs until February 13, 2022 at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd. You can reach the box office at 800-745-3000.

Sophia Joy 

Photo caption – Mitchell Johnson (center) stars with the company in the 5-STAR THEATRICALS production of “SOMETHING ROTTEN!” – Directed by Richard Israel and now playing at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks.

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