News Tribune
>>>> TOP STORY

'Something Rotten!' combines musical, comedy with Shakespeare

In times of unrest, comedy can be just the right medicine. At least that what Rob Crouse, founder of Capital City Productions, believes as the organization prepares to open its latest show, the comedy musical "Something Rotten!"

Natalie Eick, right, sings a line Tuesday evening, July 7, 2020, during Capital City Productions' rehearsal of "Something Rotten.

Photo by Greta Cross /News Tribune.

In times of unrest, comedy can be just the right medicine.

At least that what Rob Crouse, founder of Capital City Productions, believes as the organization prepares to open its latest show, the comedy musical "Something Rotten!" The show, which Crouse described as the most Mel Brooks-like comedy that didn't come from Mel Brooks, is set in 1590 when brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom write the very first musical as part of an effort to try and break out of the shadow of the Renaissance rock star William Shakespeare.

"In the times we're facing right now this is exactly the medicine we need," Crouse said, adding the show is "non-stop laughter."

"It's one of the newest and brightest musicals."

Crouse said he fell in love with the Broadway show after it opened in 2015 and has seen it four times. He said he jumped on the chance for CCP to take it on, and they are likely the first amateur company in the state to do this show. And while the story is set in Shakespearean times, it is far from a typical Shakespearean piece, Crouse said. Whether you like or hate Shakespeare, this play is for you, he said, adding that it's filled with references to different musicals, such as "A Chorus Line."

"It's such a witty show," Crouse said. "I can't say enough good things about the show."

CCP opened its first show at its new location at 719 Wicker Lane in late May after months of renovation work. Crouse said the feedback from audiences, as well as cast and crew members, has been extremely positive.

"The feedback has been pretty amazing," Crouse said, noting longtime patrons were stunned by the difference between the current facility and the group's former home at Shikles Auditorium. "The theater is getting 'wows.'"

Crouse said he's been especially pleased to hear patrons felt safe attending the theater with the measures put in place, such as additional distancing between tables and servers for the buffet meal. For the show opening tonight, he said they've added one more precaution: temperature monitors. Audience members will have their temperature taken upon arrival with a touchless thermometer that scans the forehead.

"Something Rotten!" is also the first large-scale production at the new location, as the last show, "Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical," had limited sets and a smaller cast. The show opening tonight has large sets, full costumes and huge musical numbers, Crouse said, which will really showcase the new space.

However, all of that comes with its own challenges, Crouse said, noting costuming in particular was tough until a friend connected the group with someone at the St. Louis Renaissance Festival who helped provide some much needed attire.

"It's an extremely challenging show," Crouse said, because of the singing, dancing and, most importantly, comedic timing required of the cast.

Plus, because of the tight turnaround between "Bonnie & Clyde" and "Something Rotten," the cast and crew had to work quickly, requiring a lot of busy weeks and late nights. Crouse said the cast often had to rehearse four or five times per week, and there were Saturday work calls to complete the sets.

However, that's where the community aspect really comes into play. Crouse said community theater has jobs for everyone, and there are so many people who help out behind the scenes.

"We've been blessed," Crouse said.

As a special treat to help the cast get excited before opening, Crouse arranged for a special message from one of the stars of the original Broadway run, Rob McClure, who played Nick Bottom. In the video, McClure wished the organization luck and gave tips to the young actors in the production.

Tickets are $38 and can be purchased at ccpjc.org or by calling 573-681-9612. Doors will open at 6 p.m. tonight at 719 Wicker Lane, with dinner served at 6:30 p.m. and the show starting at 7:30 p.m. Performances are set for Friday and Saturday at the same times, as well as July 16-18. Matinee performances are set for Saturday and July 18, with doors opening at 11 a.m., dinner served at noon and the show starting at 1 p.m.

There also are four performances without dinner where tickets cost $25. These "show-only" performances are set for 1 p.m. Sunday, with doors opening at 12:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. July 23-25, with doors opening at 7 p.m.