Smitten in Indiana: “Something Rotten”

I am a huge fan of The Bard! This is also in 2008.
Shakespeare’s birthplace

A couple of weeks ago my dearest came home talking about a woman he works with who was going to be traveling to NYC this past weekend to see a musical.

Here’s where I reveal that clearly my head and entire body have been firmly wedged beneath a rock because I hadn’t heard of “Something Rotten.” Okay, I think I may have seen an ad for it in a magazine, but for some reason it didn’t register.

Enter Youtube. Ah, Youtube.

In case you are as clueless as I was: two writer brothers, Nick and Nigel Bottom, are struggling to write a hit play in the 1590’s, only to be constantly overshadowed by the egomaniacal “rockstar” William Shakespeare.

Desperate, a brother consults a soothsayer who advises them to write a musical. Except no one has ever written a musical before and the idea sounds barmy to them.

Alas, now all I can think of is that I want to see the musical!

Apologies to Christian Borle for the objectification he’s been getting (re: arms) that I won’t be rehashing here. (Dignity, people, dignity! Except when it comes to parodies of parodies.) While I am a fan of buff arms (if you saw the shirts I buy Barry you’d understand that, but then he’s a musician so, musician’s arms!!), I don’t abide with reducing a man of talent to his limbs.

On the other hand, when Barry recently said he wanted to comment positively about my body but didn’t want to objectify me (well-trained feminist’s husband, he!), I told him we’re married, been married for almost 25 years, so he’s allowed, nay, obligated to objectify me privately to a certain extent. But I digress.

I so badly want to buy the soundtrack to the musical but it’s nearly my birthday and we have a mutually agreed upon moratorium on buying ourselves anything until after said day in our household, so I have been making do with playlists on Youtube. Wearing them out, you might say.

(My sweetie actually told me yesterday that I should buy the album, but I will not! Everything is better when someone else buys it for you, yes?)

I love wit, and that’s what drew me to Shakespeare in the first place. “Something Rotten” has wit in spades. And though some might complain about the low humor, if you are at all familiar with Shakespeare’s plays they are replete with bawdiness. That’s one of the things to love – this (to us) old-fashioned sounding language laced with rap-lyric worthy raunch.

(And Shakespeare, like rap, could use some de-misogynizing. Just sayin’. I’ll (partially) forgive him because he was of his time and because he wrote some really great parts for females as well.)

Then there’s the play-within-the-play, Omelette. (Sound like Hamlet to anyone else? Clever!) Hamlet, of course, has a play within a play to “catch the conscience of a king.”

Hey, I’m not a geek just because I have bits of Hamlet memorized, am I?

My favorite song so far of “Rotten?” Well of course “Hard to Be the Bard.” I suggest you watch the video version because it’s so incredibly well done and because you see a close up of Christian’s face so you get all of his inflections (perfectly acted). Though I am not recommending it for the view of his arms that other Youtube commenters seemed to enjoy so thoroughly, there’s that, too, if you have fewer qualms about that sort of thing.

The song is catchy and so apt for writers. It captures that blend of loving your work and yet having to be alone, so alone, to do it properly and yet when you are alone self doubt creeps in and threatens that very work. But you can’t do it unless you are alone sometimes…

“God I Hate Shakespeare” is another catchy track where the singer is, of course, jealous of Will. All humans have to endure having others envy them sometimes, but it seems counterproductive and reductive as well: it wouldn’t occur to me to be jealous of someone else because that would imply that I don’t believe there’s enough out there for me too and there is, sure there is, in every area. But it makes for a funny song.

As to the cast, I am one of those people who secretly enjoyed the TV series “Smash.” Sue me. I know plenty of people didn’t, but I did in part because it was fascinating to see what it takes to put a musical together, the highs and lows. It was a craft lesson.

To learn that the aforesaid Christian Borle and Brian D’arcy James (as writer brother Nick Bottom) team up again in “Rotten” was phenomenal.

Just before Barry and I married he bought me the gift of gifts: the complete works of Shakespeare! The tome was HUGE (redundancy alert)! I had to lie on my stomach to read it in bed.

I read every play. Avidly. (I have a pet project I intend to embark upon next year involving our friend the Bard. Stay tuned for details.)

I’ve just got to see this musical! Watch for an upcoming plea to get me to NYC on soon. (Not really.) But if you want to send my husband a Facebook message encouraging him to take me there for our 25th anniversary, I won’t tell him that I put you up to it.

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