Something Rotten!
Two brothers set out to write the world’s first musical in this hilarious mash-up of sixteenth-century Shakespeare and twenty-first-century Broadway.
Show Essentials
+ Ensemble

Full Synopsis

Act One

London, 1595. "Welcome to the Renaissance," when William Shakespeare is at the top of a list of famous playwrights, while Nick and Nigel Bottom are definitely, well, bottom. The brothers are rehearsing their latest hope for a hit play, when their patron turns up with the news that the Bard has written the very same idea. "God, I Hate Shakespeare!" declares Nice to his shocked troupe. 

Back at home, Nick's wife, Bea, suggests that she could help out by getting a job. "Let me be your 'Right Hand Man,'" she implores, but the suggestion only makes Nick feel more like a failure. In private, he repeats "God, I Hate Shakespeare!" — even if he admits to himself that it wouldn't be so bad to have some of that success... if only he could know what the future holds. With that idea, he takes their precious savings and heads off to Soothsayer Alley.

Here, Nick encounters Nostradamus (or rather, his nephew, "Thomas"). Nick pays him to predict the next big thing in theatre, and Nostradamus foresees "A Musical!" Nick is convinced that this is what they must write! Their musical will be about something epic, a massive historical event, and so his troupe dances its way through a catchy little number about "The Black Death." Their patron is appalled and quits. Brother Jeremiah, the Puritan who hates all theatre, warns them not to add evil music to their already sinful plays. 

But Jeremiah's beautiful daughter, Portia, loves poetry and plays so when she discovers that she shares this passion with Nigel, they list their favorites in "I Love the Way" while falling in love with each other. They are amazed to be invited to hear a private recitation by William Shakespeare, who performs "Will Power," but at the show's after-party, it becomes clear that Shakespeare only wants to steal young Nigel's notebook. Nick bursts in, just in time to prevent the theft, but is publicly humiliated by the Bard.

Still with no idea for his musical, Nick returns to Nostradamus to ask what Shakespeare's greatest play will be. Nostradamus can see it clearly! Shakespeare's greatest work will be called... Omelette. With this foolproof idea, an excited Nick is convinced that this "Bottom's Gonna Be on Top!"

Act Two

"Welcome to the Renaissance," where Shakespeare is complaining that it's "Hard to Be the Bard." His spy informs him that Nick Bottom has hired a soothsayer to steal Shakespeare's greatest idea, so the Bard adopts a disguise and infiltrates Nick and Nigel's troupe. They have been rehearsing their first number, "It's Eggs!" but Nigel can't help but feel as though something isn't right about all of this. He shares his feelings with Portia, who urges him to write from the heart. Portia imagines her fellow Puritans declaring "We See the Light" once they have heard the beauty of Nigel's poem, but in fact, when Brother Jeremiah catches the two of them together, he banishes his daughter to Scotland. Feeling bereft and almost suicidal, Nigel writes all night and creates a masterpiece. When the disguised Shakespeare hears lines like "To be or not to be" and "Get thee to a nunnery," he knows that he has got to get this play. Nick is maddened that it has nothing to do with eggs, but Nigel insists that the only thing that matters is "To Thine Own Self" be true. He refuses to write Omelette and walks out. Bea reminds Nigel that for all of his faults, Nick would always be his "Right Hand Man." Nigel agrees to go back and write Omelette the Musical; Bea is confident that it is a show that they will never forget. 

There's "Something Rotten!" warns the cast at the top of Nick's make-or-break show. Nick gives it everything that he's got as he sings the title number, "Make an Omelette," complete with dancing eggs and cameos from every musical that Nostradamus has foreseen. One actor goes off script, though — the newest recruit to the troupe pulls off his disguise and reveals himself as none other than William Shakespeare! He tells everyone how Nick stole his idea, Nick is publicly disgraced and worse, Nigel is left feeling utterly betrayed. 

In court, Nick and his collaborators face execution until Bea shows up disguised as their elderly male lawyer. Nick realizes that he should have listened when Nigel told him "To Thine Own Self" be true, and the brothers are re-reconciled. Bea calls Shakespeare as a witness, who persuades the star-struck judge not to execute them. Instead, they are banished to the New World and told to take their so called "musicals" with them. Portia defies her father and runs away with them. In America, they perform their new show with a "Finale" written from the heart, like Nigel always wanted, the very first of hundreds of American musicals! 



Cast Size: Large (21 or more performers)
Cast Type: Mainly Men
Dance Requirements: Standard
Full Song List
Something Rotten!: Welcome to the Renaissance
Something Rotten!: God, I Hate Shakespeare
Something Rotten!: Right Hand Man
Something Rotten!: God, I Hate Shakespeare (Reprise)
Something Rotten!: A Musical
Something Rotten!: The Black Death
Something Rotten!: I Love the Way
Something Rotten!: Will Power
Something Rotten!: Bottom's Gonna Be On Top
Something Rotten!: Welcome to the Renaissance (Reprise)
Something Rotten!: Hard To Be The Bard
Something Rotten!: It's Eggs!
Something Rotten!: We See The Light
Something Rotten!: To Thine Own Self
Something Rotten!: Right Hand Man (Reprise)
Something Rotten!: Something Rotten! / Make an Omelette
Something Rotten!: To Thine Own Self (Reprise)
Something Rotten!: Finale

Show History


Something Rotten! started its road to Broadway as a shared idea between brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick.  They joined bookwriter John O’Farrell to complete a set of songs that were presented to producer Kevin McCollum in 2010. A workshop, with Casey Nicholaw attached to direct, was presented in 2014.


The workshop in 2014 initially planned a pre-Broadway production at Seattle’s 5th Ave Theatre. However, producer Kevin McCollum expedited the process when the St. James Theatre on Broadway became available. Fresh off of the positive reviews from the workshop, the show bypassed the tryout production in Seattle and went straight to Broadway.

Something Rotten! officially opened at the St. James Theatre on April 22, 2015. It closed on January 1, 2017, after 742 performances.

A U.S. National Tour began in January of 2017. It stars three leads from the closing Broadway cast – Rob McClure, Adam Pascal and Josh Grisetti.

Critical Reaction

"Something Rotten! is full fledged satire, filled with hilarious word play, fun historical (though easily recognizable) references, and ridiculous characters.... Going to see Something Rotten! is an amazing experience and you are guaranteed a laugh-filled evening."
– The Huffington Post

"Even if you haven't brushed up on your Shakespeare recently – or your musical theater – you'll find plenty that's amusing... in Something Rotten!"
– USA Today

"Something Rotten! has established itself as Broadway’s funniest, splashiest, slap-happiest musical comedy in at least 400 years."
– Time Out New York

"This is a big, brash meta-musical... loaded with crowd-pleasing showstoppers, deliciously puerile gags and an infectious love of the form it so playfully skewers."
– The Hollywood Reporter

Tony® Award

2015 - Featured Actor In A Musical, Nominee (Brad Oscar)
2015 - Best Musical, Nominee (Something Rotten! )
2015 - Book Of A Musical, Nominee (John O'Farrell, Karey Kirkpatrick)
2015 - Direction Of A Musical, Nominee (Casey Nicholaw)
2015 - Original Score, Nominee (Karey Kirkpatrick, Wayne Kirkpatrick)
2015 - Choreography, Nominee (Casey Nicholaw)
2015 - Featured Actor In A Musical, Winner (Christian Borle)

Drama Desk Award

2015 - Outstanding Musical, Nominee (Something Rotten! )
2015 - Outstanding Book of a Musical, Nominee (John O'Farrell, Karey Kirkpatrick )
2015 - Outstanding Lyrics, Nominee (Karey Kirkpatrick, Wayne Kirkpatrick)
2015 - Outstanding Direction of a Musical, Nominee (Casey Nicholaw)
2015 - Outstanding Orchestrations, Nominee (Larry Hochman)
2015 - Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Brian d'Arcy James)
2015 - Outstanding Featured Actor in a Muscial, Winner (Christian Borle)
2015 - Outstanding Featured Actor in a Muscial, Nominee (Brad Oscar)



You must give the authors/creators billing credits, as specified in the Production Contract, in a conspicuous manner on the first page of credits in all programs and on houseboards, displays and in all other advertising announcements of any kind.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.
You agree to bill the Play and the Authors in all programs (on the title pages), houseboards, and displays and in all advertising and all paid publicity, in the following manner:
Book By
Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell
Music and Lyrics by
Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
Conceived by Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick
The names of the Composer, Lyricist and Bookwriter shall be equal in size, type, coloring, boldness and prominence. No billing shall appear in type larger or more prominent than the billing to the Authors except for the title of the Play.
In addition, you agree that the following credits shall be included in the program on the title page:
Glen Kelly
Larry Hochman
In addition, you agree that the following credits shall be included in the program on the title page:
Produced by Kevin McCollum
Broadway Global Ventures CMC Mastro/Goodman Jerry & Ronald Frankel, Morris Berchard
Kyodo Tokyo, Inc. Wendy Federman Barbara Freitag LAMS Productions Winkler/DeSimone
Timothy Laczynski Dan Markley Harris/Karmazin Jam Theatricals Robert Greenblatt
and Jujamcyn Theaters


Developed in association with the 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle, WA, David Armstrong, Executive
Producer and Artistic Director, Bernadine Griffin, Managing Director and Bill Berry, Producing
Artistic Director
In advertisements of 1/4 page size or less, or where only the title of the play, performance dates and venue are provided, the following "shortened billing" is permissible:

In addition, you agree to include Authors’ approved biographies in in all programs of the Play that include biographies of any other creative team members.

The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited

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