Meet Brothers Behind Shakespeare Spoof 'Something Rotten'

Adam Pascal as William Shakespeare in 'Something Rotten' [photo: Jeremy Daniel]
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A Tony-nominated production is onstage at Playhouse Square spoofing the Bard of Avon with a theater style that was not yet known at the time of the Renaissance - the Broadway musical.

Written by brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick, Something Rotten is a send up of both William Shakespeare's works and Broadway favorites.

Because the brothers live in different cities it took them years of long-distance phone conversations about writing their first musical to get beyond what was only a germ of an idea.

"We'd expound upon [it] anytime we were together. 'Hey I had another thought about that Shakespeare idea,' which we'd talk about and it would usually be followed by 'yeah that's funny we should write that.'  That went on for 15 years until we got serious about it," Wayne said.

The Kirkpatricks started to get serious in 2010, but the brothers weren't sure they had enough for a proper Broadway pitch.  So Karey called friend and producer Kevin McCollum.

"He said 'Avenue Q, was three songs and an idea,' and we were like, 'we got that," Karey said.

McCollum paid the brothers a visit and they pitched him five songs and shared the treatment.

"He said, 'I think you got something there,' and we were off and running," Karey said.

Something Rotten centers on the Bottom brothers, who are competing with William Shakespeare for audiences during the Renaissance.  In desperation they go to a descendant of Nostradamus, who predicts that the future of theater will be something called a musical.  But the soothsayer makes one crucial mistake.  Nostradamus wrongly predicts that Shakespeare's greatest hit will be called Omelette.

"It's a version of Shakespeare's Hamlet with breakfast themes. It goes horribly wrong and they pay the price for that," Wayne said.

In order to properly spoof Shakespeare, the Kirkpatricks decided to give the great Bard a 20th century makeover.

"We used to jokingly refer to him as the rock star of his day.  So we thought, 'well what if we actually treat him like a rock star?" Karey said.

It's a show that pokes fun at musicals while lovingly paying tribute to them at the same time.  Karey has been amazed by people who love musical theater who tell him their show was written for them.

"Particularly students who love musical theater and who are studying Shakespeare this show is really for them."

As for the Shakespearean's in the audience, they should note the show's historical accuracy, despite all the silliness.

"We both did a lot of research because research is the best way to avoid actual writing," Karey jokes.

Something Rotten is onstage at Playhouse Square's Connor Palace Theater now through Sunday, May 14th.

Tune in Friday, April 28 at 1:33pm to Here and Now featuring the Sound of Applause on 90.3 FM to hear Dan Polletta's report.

Listen to the entire interview below:


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