If you find the name of the latest musical to hit the Hippodrome a bit off-putting, we don’t blame you—but put your prejudice aside, because “Something Rotten!” is something special.
The newish musical, which debuted in 2015 and has since been nominated for 10 Tony Awards, is a metafictional take on the creation of the first-ever musical. Set in the 1590s, the production stars Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti as the Bottom Brothers, two contemporaries of Shakespeare (played by Adam Pascal) who are set on besting the Bard by revolutionizing the theater world. The result? A hilarious, rollicking adventure that will appeal to fans of the Elizabethan era and musical theater alike.
The marriage of these two worlds served as inspiration for Gregg Barnes, renowned designer and mastermind behind the “Something Rotten!” costuming.
“What’s great about it is that it appeals to people who love the theater, especially musicals, and to people who love a good PBS documentary,” he says. “Different parts of the audience will laugh at different points for different reasons—but everyone thinks it’s hysterical.”
Though influenced by traditional Shakespearean costuming, Barnes says he played with fabrics and details to reflect musical culture.
“We thought we could either do it as a fabulist, comic kind of heightened visual world or could play it straight,” he says. “We decided to present it like a Shakespearean comedy, but Shakespeare is written like a rock star, so we designed to take the traditional shapes and make them in leather. His doublet is like a biker jacket.”
As for the rest of the cast? Barnes doesn’t want to give too much away, but he promises plenty of “dance and color and humor.”
“It’s really a delight,” he says. “If you’re on the fence, put your shoes on and go to the theater.”
“Something Rotten” is playing at the Hippodrome from April 18-23. Get your tickets here.