Have you ever stopped to wonder where Broadway musicals come from? If you've never taken an intro to theater class, it's probably a mystery. Something Rotten, a musical set in merry old England when Shakespeare was a rising star, won't set the record straight, but it does propose one utterly preposterous vision of how things might have gone down when sibling playwrights, Nick and Nigel Bottom, in a desperate attempt to escape Shakespeare's shadow, heed the words of a soothsayer and set about the task of inventing theater with concurrent singing, acting, and dancing. Something Rotten's an irreverent audience-pleaser in the spirit of Parker & Stone's Book of Mormon, only instead of religion, this show by actual siblings Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick with John O'Farrell takes on Shakespeare, and showbiz.
The brothers Kirkpatrick know something about hustling stories and songs. Karey went to Hollywood where he's written for Disney and penned the screenplays for films like Chicken Run and A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Wayne went to Nashville, and his songs have been recorded by Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, and Eric Clapton, who won a song of the year Grammy for Kirkpatrick's "Change the World."
- Something Rotten!
"There are bits of us in it, for sure," Wayne Kirkpatrick says. "Probably more than anything, you can see it in the insecurities of writing that come out in the Nigel character. You can also see it in Nick and Nigel's ambition. And sometimes in their envy.
"Shakespeare represents all of those people that tend to step over you and have things happen to them along the way," Kirkpatrick says. "And you think, 'Oh, why can't I just get something like that to happen to me once!'"
Sometimes it does happen. Something Rotten opened in 2017, ran for 742 performances, and was nominated for nine Tony awards.