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‘Something Rotten’ aims to capture the sweet smell of success

Novel concept promises laughs and much japery May 15 – 20 at PPAC

By Laurence J. Sasso, Jr.

Ever wonder how the idea of musical theater came into being? Well, even though the show Something Rotten purports to explain the whole thing, you won’t find out the truth from watching it. However, you will see what it might have been like.

This tongue in cheek production, which is set in 1595, aims to demonstrate how a pair of William Shakespeare’s rivals try to steal a march on the bard by adopting the idea of offering the world’s first musical.

A soothsayer reveals that the future of theater will be rife with such productions. The concept comes as a revolutionary idea to the Elizabethans. Struck by the novelty of it, Nick and Nigel Bottom, two brothers who run a theater in competition with Shakespeare, set out to steal his audience with this new invention and crowd old Will off the stage.

The spoof that ensues takes full advantage of the chance to send up the genius of Shakespeare at the same time it borrows characters to parody from his most famous works as well as other familiar modern era productions, and shamelessly mocks the masterpieces which are at the heart of his canon.

An original musical comedy with a book by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick and music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick Something Rotten opened in 2015 on Broadway and received 10 Tony nominations, with Christian Borle, the actor playing Shakespeare, ironically earning the one award they received.

Something Rotten began touring in January 2017 in Boston and will end its road run at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) this month where it is on stage May 15 to 20.

Maggie Lakis has been with the show for the entire tour. She plays Bea, wife to Nick Bottom. Her real life husband, Rob McClure, portrays Nick.

In the time-honored practice of Shakespearean characters Bea gets to adopt disguises of both genders as she goes about trying to advance Nick and his brother’s cause, despite disagreeing with Nick’s methods.

“It’s a real fun role. I get to play her playing other roles,” she declares. “It’s a great role, a dream role.”

A native of the Philadelphia area, Lakis went to Temple University, leaving “just shy of graduation” because she was getting regular work in theater. She first toured ten years ago with the show Avenue Q, a piece that employs three human characters and 11 puppets. Rob McClure was also part of the tour. She has done a little bit of television work, appearing in an episode of Boardwalk Empire, but the bulk of her experience has been on stage.

Her appearance at PPAC marks her first visit to Providence, and she says she has been looking forward to it.

Ms. Lakis notes that she feels privileged to be an actor. “You get to tell a new story and make people laugh every night,” she comments, adding “you get to play make believe for a living. What could be better than that?”

For more information about Something Rotten and to order tickets call PPAC at 401-421-2787.