Nothing is Rotten on the Playhouse Stage in Washington Park

A Bard of some note once said all the world’s a stage. After seeing the hilarious production of Something Rotten on the Playhouse Stage in Washington Park, you may question whether Shakespeare was the one who actually said it or did he borrow it from someone else. 

Anna Sprau & Daniel Jameson
Photo by Shawn Morgan

Now in its 35th season, the stage in Washington Park has come alive with one of the best musical productions that has been produced there. Will Shakespeare is more or less the villain of the piece, borrowing or stealing play ideas, lines, and concepts from his apparently more creative counterparts, the Bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel. The Bottom boys are struggling in the theatre around the block and are in grave danger of losing their benefactor. The main problem is the struggle among the brothers. Nigel is clearly the artist, the poet, and the better writer. Nick insists on tossing most everything good that Nigel creates and wants to opt for what he perceives as the more commercial work, which usually falls flat on its derriere. 

Written by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick with music by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, Something Rotten is one of the funniest shows to land in the park in years. With a combination of slapstick, bad puns, sexual innuendos (lots of innuendos, and some not nearly so subtle), and just wonderfully broad comedy, you will laugh from curtain to curtain. For Broadway aficionados, you’ll relish the two dozen or more allusions to shows old and new (well, new as of 2015 when the play opened on Broadway), both in snippets of music, lines, and pieces of  “borrowed” dialogue. It became a fun evening of seeing if you could find them all. 

Lancelot Douglas & The Ensemble of Something Rotten
Photo by Shawn Morgan

What makes this production truly sing, pardon the pun, is the wonderfully talented assemblage of cast and crew. The show shines from the usually never recognized enough ensemble, which is lovely, to the leading and supporting roles. Director Micheal LoPorto returns once again to the Park to lead this twenty-plus cast through its paces.  With a few exceptions of overplaying some of the more obvious lines, LoPorto does an excellent job taking this cast and audience through a rip-roaring trip across the pond. Backed by the incredibly talented Musical Director Brian Axford and stunning choreography and musical staging by Ashley Simone Kirchner, this trio gets the best from their performers.

And what a group of performers. Vincent DiPeri owns the stage as the misguided and non-bending Nick Bottom. His voice is superb, his dancing spot on, and his acting ability is clearly top-rank. Molly Rose McGrath is once again back in the Park as Bottom’s wife, Bea. She is well ahead of her time in her charge for women’s equality leaving home to go and get out into the workforce. McGrath’s voice is her cornerstone. She has just a few numbers in the show, but she makes the best of them, with a tour de force performance again matched with her wonderful comic timing. Daniel Jameson returns as Nigel Bottom, the love-sick poet who plays beautifully with Portia, and Anna Sprau, playing out their own Romeo and Juliet to better ends. Sprau does a fine job in the role in her Playhouse Stage debut.

Molly Rose McGrath & Vincent DiPeri
Photo by Shawn Morgan

Supporting these characters are Nostradamus, hysterically interpreted by Marc Christopher,  Brother Jeremiah, the bible-thumping father of Portia, played by Brandon Jones, Benjamin Roth’s Shylock, and of course, the ever-present Shakespeare. Steve Raymond is a great Bard: equal parts arrogance, pomposity, and slimness. His number, It’s Hard To Be The Bard, was just one number that stopped the show.

When all of this on-stage talent is supported by the technical side: great costumes by Gina Kowalski, Lighting, Sound, and Sets by P.J. Davis, Tommy Rosati, and Jeffrey T. Perri Jr., the audience is in for a fabulous night.

Steve Raymond & The Ensemble of Something Rotten
Photo by Shawn Morgan

It is always great to see returning performers to the Park and many who have come through the Park Playhouse II program, growing from student performers to experienced adults, returning to share the magic that is Park Playhouse.

So spend a few hours this summer in the Park. Whether you choose to sit free on the amphitheater hillside and perhaps bring a picnic, or you prefer to purchase seats or even sit at one of the tables up front, Something Rotten is a great night out under the stars. 

For ticket information: or call: 518-434-0776. Something Rotten runs through July 22 at Park Playhouse, Washington Park, Albany.

Vincent DiPeri, Marc Christopher & The Ensemble of Something Rotten
Photo by Shawn Morgan
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