Two actors perform on stage
The cast of Springfield Little Theatre's "Something Rotten!" rehearses a scene at the Landers Theatre. (Photo: Tonya Forbes)

It’s your last weekend to travel back to the 1500s for some laughs as Springfield Little Theatre presents “Something Rotten!”

This musical comedy, which kicks off SLT’s 88th season, is set in the 1590s, where brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play. They find themselves stuck in the shadows of another playwright, known as “The Bard.” You know, William Shakespeare.

“It is definitely a fun premise,” said Jamie Bower, the show’s director. “And the show is extremely anachronistic. It is not a period piece by any stretch of the imagination. The writing and language are very modern, we just happen to be back in 1590. It’s a fun, fun show that is just written very sharply and is very, very witty. The humor is just perfect.”

Writing the world’s first musical

Nick, in an attempt to be better than Shakespeare, hires a local soothsayer. That soothsayer, played by Springfield Little Theatre veteran Todd Smith, predicts the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting all at the same time. The Bottom Brothers then set out to write the world’s first musical.

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What follows are hilariously flawed shows — a plague-themed musical called “Black Death” and a brunch musical called “Omelette” — that end with…well, you’ll have see the show to find out.

The book for “Something Rotten!” was written by screenwriters Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, with music and lyrics by Kirkpatrick and Grammy Award-winning songwriter Wayne Kirkpatrick. The music shines in this show, with numbers like “I hate Shakespeare.” “A Musical” references some 28 other shows — everything from “Annie” to “Cabaret” to “Jesus Christ Superstar” — in a number that is sure to delight theatre lovers.

“Oh my gosh, (the show) is written for anybody who has the theatre bug — and not just acting,” Bower said. “If you like to go see shows you will see not just theatre but a lot of Shakespeare references as well. You get the best of both worlds. You get all the fun things about Shakespeare and all the fun things about musicals in general.”

Actors perform on stage
The cast of Springfield Little Theatre’s “Something Rotten!” rehearses a scene at the Landers Theatre. (Photo: Tonya Forbes)

Meet the cast of wacky characters

 “Something Rotten!” features a cast of wacky characters, each given their own special moment in the show to shine. SLT newcomer Kaleb Patterson and veteran Andrew Wilson make good use of the spotlight as Nick and Nigel Bottom. Patterson

“(Patterson) has never done a show here at the Landers,” Bower said. “He’s choreographed out in Marshfield and is a middle school choir teacher, but he’s never done anything here. Even though he was an unknown, his talent shined in auditions. He has taken this role and ran with it.

“Andrew’s grown up here at the Landers and is always great for making fun choices. He’s fleshed out this nervous brother of Nick so well, and that fits really well.”

Bower praises the cast for all meshing well together, from Katie Orr’s awkward Portia — the love interest of equally awkward Nigel — to Claire Caubré’s strong feminist Bea, the wife of Nick.

“And then, of course, our soothsayer is Todd Smith,” Bower said. “He’s a longtime veteran here and just nailed the role of the soothsayer because he’s got to be crazy. But he’s also got to carry a couple of musical numbers as well, so (he) is absolutely perfect for it.”

Play nominated for 10 Tony Awards

“Something Rotten!” was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It was created by Grammy Award-winning songwriter Wayne Kirkpatrick and screenwriters Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell.

The show is rated PG-13 and starts at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23-24. There is a 2 p.m. matinee Sept. 25. For tickets call 417-869-1334 or visit Springfield Little Theatre’s website.

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger