Rockin’ the Bard! Stage 62 Whisks Up Something Rotten!


You will be amazed and know not what to say–you will be too busy laughing! When a regional company moving into its seventh decade takes on a cunningly crafter musical satire like Something Rotten!, the stars align for a wonderfully entertaining experience. After all, the show itself says audiences should be entertained, and this production doesn’t disappoint in any way.

Kudos to Stage 62 (founded in 1962) for reaching the top while appreciating the “bottom” of perhaps unwritten theater history. Don’t miss this production of a great musical about a musical that goes very wrong. 

The outrageously funny concert of Shakespeare’s competitive colleagues trying to outdo him by looking into the future for inspiration is spot on. The thing is, the soothsayer scrambles some details, and the ambitious Bottom brothers each conjure up some new work that’s astounding for different reasons. While Nick pursues a new theater genre–the Musical–Nigel writes some profound and effective dramatic poetry that even Shakespeare envies as worthy of his greatest play. 

Under the super direction of Rob James, a company of 30 populates Shakespeare’s London stomping grounds. The cast depicts an impressive number of characters singing beautifully. 

But take note; this is a company that can tap, as in totally tap dance expertly throughout the show in choreography by Ashley Harmon. It’s clearly not optional–everyone taps! That alone is joyful entertainment, but hold on to your hat, loosen your corset, and settle into your seat for a laugh-inducing experience. 

Five, Six, Seven, Eight! Count the infinite ways Something Rotten! at Stage 62 cast its comic spell.

  1. As the song says, it’s “A Musical.” There are most references to musicals we know in just this one song and throughout the show that you can shake a spear at! Clever properties by Chris Martin support the schtick throughout, but you’ll see them in rapid fire in this number.
  2.  It’s Shakespeare! There is no shortage of revamping, reciting, and revolutionizing a bunch of the Bard’s words, character names, poetry, and plots. Blink, and you might miss something!
  3. Will Shakespeare is a rock star! Love him or hate him, you gotta admit the passion of Barophiles (yes, I admit that I am one!) is nearly as contagious as the Plague! When leather-clad B.A. Goodnack conjures the Bard’s star quality, the groundlings go crazy–singing every word, waving their candles in the wind, and wildly worshiping the poet-playwright. 
  4. The house band of nine players also rocks, supporting the cast and action brightly through a score that’s as clever as the book.
  5. Experience the Renaissance without having to go back to the time of the Black Death, inadequate sewage systems, poor hygiene, and more details we will spare you. The cast takes you there vicariously so you can laugh about the 1500s without living or smelling it.
  6. Women also reign! Elizabeth is queen, but Mrs. Nick Bottom, Bea, played by the delightfully versatile Anna Gergerich, forecasts feminist milestones like equal pay, women on stage, and more. 
  7. The place is charming, as depicted by Keith Osborne. His darling Victorian toy theatre-style wing and backdrop elements are fast changing, practical, and thorough. From the hearth in Mr. and Mrs. Bottom’s home and interiors of theaters to the exteriors of the Globe and a house of questionable repute that advertises “Wenches! Wenches! Wenches”, Osborne captures the satirical flavor of this London.
  8. Costumes that capture the era’s style and variety are designed well by Michelle Nowakowski who did the Herculean task of costuming this show. Ladies double as nuns, wenches, men, and even eggs. Better not to explain “eggs”–just learn about breakfast fare at the show. 
  9. The players! The entire cast shines, from the hardworking ensemble to the strong leads. The company visibly enjoys the challenge and appears to have the time of their lives back in the Renaissance. 

More specifically, the leading cast members are “egg-cellent,” as playwright Nick Bottom might insist we say as he embarks on an artistic venture based on a soothsayer’s vision that cooks up hilarious comedy from a series of plot-driving misunderstandings. Brian Ferris is wonderful as he alternately hates Shakespeare and envies his success. Ferris reveals more nuances of his talent as he leads the cast from tender moments with his wife Bea to carrying on full tilt as actor-manager of his musical. 

Nigel Bottom is the other half of the Bottom Brothers’ writing collaboration. Sean Whitney shifts emotional gears constantly as he writes some fantastic verse (that his girlfriend loves and his brother hates) and alternates between following his instincts or buying into Nick’s musical creation. Whitney is more of a straight man in the scenario and falls unwittingly into some ridiculous comic business. It seems his codpiece is like a pocket, and he keeps reaching in there for his notes, quill, whatever–too funny!

Anna Gergerish takes on the Shakespearean convention of disguise to appear as a man in numerous scenes–from a street worker when she seeks work to support her husband’s artistic career to a capable lawyer in the Merchant of Venice-inspired courtroom scene. What’s more, Gergerrich is president of Stage 62–truly an actor-manager off-stage. Her versatile voices in singing and characters are spot on and so fun.

Portia, the Puritan gal who wins Nigel’s heart, is played by Adelyne Anderson. Sweet and steadfast, Porta captures the essence of the devoted and possibly doomed Shakespeare heroine. Andersson sings sweetly and conveys that “head of heels” quality that endears us to the Bard’s ingenues. She’s spunky and would be the Nerriss to Bea’s own Portia in court–were she on trial. 

Portia’s father, Brother Jeremiah, is a Puritan preacher who condemns same-sex relationships and the theater. Nick Franczak captures his actual proclivity with each swishy exit and eye-roll. 

But no more talk of trials, lawyers, Puritanical ways, and such. This is a musical, replete with Will Shakespeare and his swooning fans and “Bard Boys” backup singers (Aaron Cook, Michael Davidson, Nicholas Spreadndeo, and Dylan Pal–who opens the show and reappears as the Minstrel and Shylock). He plays in the park–what can be more future-casting than that? B.A. Goodack conjures Elvis and maybe even Tom Jones in his leather and perhaps Kevin Kline in both his piratical look and swoon-inducing poetic stylings. 

The icing on the comic cake is the irrepressible Dixie Surewood as soothsayer Nostradamos (a relative of the famed predictor). From wacky wig antics to the exuberant forecaster, Surewood is a comic loose cannon as visions of theater’s future pop in at inopportune times and add to the hilarity. Surewood is terrific, tapping out of the introduction of the dance form to incredulous Nick, only to be joined by the entire cast tapping it out. 

Something Rotten! carried by much tapping, singing, and musing about the future of theater, moves swiftly through two acts with an intermission to recover from the laughing. Anyone who knows and loves Shakespeare should see this. Anyone who says they don’t like Shakespeare really needs this show. Thus, everyone should get thee to Something Rotten! Posthaste! (Aye, Will likely coined that word!)


Something Rotten! is onstage at Carlynton Junior-Senior High School in the comfortable and well-equipped theater at 435 Kings Highway, Carnegie (15106). Performances run through July 30 only, so don’t miss your chance! 
Tickets at: https://www.purplepass.com/#255527/Stage_62-Something_Rotten!-Carlynton_Jr/Sr_High_School-July-22-2023.html

Created by Grammy Award-winning songwriter Wayne Kirkpatrick, and successful screenwriters Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, Something Rotten! received several Best Musical nominations. 

Disclaimer: Yvonne Hudson appears as Will’s wife in Mrs. Shakespeare when she’s not seeing and writing about theatre. Hudson spent over 120 hours talking to her invisible husband in her solo show. She notes Anne Hathaway’s Mrs. Shakespeare doesn’t even appear in Something Rotten!, probably as she was at home in Stratford-Upon-Avon collecting and scrambling their eggs, keeping some to throw at Will on his infrequent visits!

Crack up at this super on-location trailer feature Will and a pair of dancing eggs on the town in Pittsburgh:https://www.facebook.com/stage62/videos/1227718414563218/

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3 replies

  1. Hello, onStage Pittsburgh. Thank you for the lovely review and I’m so glad you enjoyed the show. I would like to point out though, that Michelle Nowakowski did the Herculean task of costuming this show! She is a dream to work with and amazingly creative! – Rob

  2. Sorry to have pushed send when I about to not costumed myself! They were marvelous!!

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