‘Something Rotten!’: The grand reopening of theater
Sophia Michetti | Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Live theater has returned to Notre Dame with the April 2021 PEMCo production of “Something Rotten!” With theaters being closed for over a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the dimming of the lights and the bright sound of the flute coming through the opening overture was a warm welcome for all theater lovers. Directed by sophomore Elizabeth Maroshick, “Something Rotten!” brought comedy and music back to Washington Hall with the story of the Bottom brothers and their plight to bring the next big thing to the stage in Renaissance England. While COVID-19 restrictions called for pre-recorded musical numbers and actors wearing masks on stage, “Something Rotten!” was a fun revival of what lovers of the arts have missed so much.
After being welcomed to the Renaissance, we meet Nick (sophomore Nick “Branches” Buranicz) and Nigel Bottom (sophomore Solomon Duane) — two brothers leading a troupe of actors trying to outdo the Bard himself, Shakespeare (first-year Nathan Esser), and earn a living for their family. Nick and Nigel are an interesting pairing in that each has what the other doesn’t. Nick has got the confidence and the drive to make it in the theater world (sometimes too much of it), but Nigel is the wordsmith of the two — he seems to spend more time hiding his notebook rather than writing in it on stage. Although the story closely follows the lives of the two brothers, there was talent amongst the entire cast of characters.
Despite the singing being pre-recorded, it was still obvious that there were very gifted singers among the group. The chorus captured the audience’s attention with the opening song, “Welcome to the Renaissance,” Buranicz kickstarted the plot with, “God I Hate Shakespeare,” and you could hear the power in sophomore Lucy Barron’s voice even through the recording as she sang “Right Hand Man.” While there were some startling transitions between the actors speaking their lines at one volume and the recording starting at a completely different volume, the actors moved completely in sync with the music, so the audience could easily imagine that they were watching the real deal.
I had no idea I needed so much tap dancing in my life until I watched “Something Rotten!” Hats off to sophomore and choreographer Caroline Crawford, as well as to senior and assistant choreographer Elizabeth Travnik, for creating exciting numbers that boosted the energy in the room through the roof. Taking center stage in “A Musical” with sophomore Mary Kate Godfrey’s masterful performance as Nancy Nostradamus, the tap dancing in “Something Rotten!” included kicks, jumps and spins that I was pleasantly surprised to see. I’m still wondering if everyone in the main cast and chorus knew how to tap dance before or if everybody learned it just for this show. Either way, I was thoroughly impressed.
I was also impressed by how emotive the actors were, despite having to wear masks. There was the perfect amount of exaggeration on stage to get the point across to the audience. Buranicz did a particularly great job at conveying his character’s unbelievable amount of stress, and senior Harrison Brousseau got laughs out of the audience with his hilarious portrayal of the leader of the Puritans, Brother Jeremiah. By the end of the show, you probably wouldn’t have noticed that the actors were wearing masks that made the show different from any other you’ve seen in the past.
Running at around two and a half hours, “Something Rotten!” felt long for a musical, but it was filled with fun and amusement that kept the audience engaged. After not being able to see live theater for so long, “Something Rotten!” was an exciting way to kick off the reopening of theater to the Notre Dame campus. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew for a great show! If you weren’t able to secure tickets to “Something Rotten!,” make sure you check out the PEMCo Revue coming at an undetermined date soon this semester.