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Dragon Productions Theatre Company Monday Night Play Space. Workshop production of “Blood and Silk.” 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28. A new musical by Jeffrey L. Love and Jo Kiech based on “Beauty and the Beast.” Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway St., Redwood City. Pay what you will at the door; $5-$10 suggested. Los Altos Stage Company. “The Crucible.” Sept. 7 through Oct. 1. By Arthur Miller. Directed by Jeffrey Lo. Features Joe Antonicelli, Nicole Apostol Bruno, Michael Champlin, Jeff Clarke, Carolyn Compton, Mat Espinosa, Marjorie Hazeltine, Alexandra Ho, Leslie Ivy, Gary Landis, Maria G. Marquis, Shareen Merriam, Brittany Pisoni, Roneet Aliza Rahamim, Neiry Rojo, Ellie Schwartz, Max Tachis, Damian Vega and Cameron Wells. Bus Barn Theatre, 97 Hillview Ave., Los Altos. $18-$38. www.losaltosstage.org or 650-941-0551.
Pear Theatre, “In the Next Room, or, the Vibrator Play.” Sept, 7 through Oct, 1, By Sarah Ruhl, Directed by Caroline Clark, Featuring April Culver, Bradley Satterwhite, Ellen Dunphy, Troy Johnson, Stephanie Crowley, Damaris Divito and James Lewis, Pear how to sew elastic on pointe shoes Theatre, 1110 La Avenida St., Mountain View, $10-$35 (discounts available), www.thepear.org or 650-254-1148, Palo Alto Players, “Million Dollar Quartet.” Sept, 16 through Oct, 1, Book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, Inspired by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, www.paplayers.org or 650-329-0891..
One thing you have to admit about the new Shakespearean spoof “Something Rotten,” it comes dangerously close to living up to its title. Indeed, this maniacally energetic but creatively inert Broadway musical is so bloated and excessive that it’s downright stale at times. To be sure, the nimble actors and dancers in this hardworking Tony-nominated show pull off nearly Olympic feats of strength and endurance, throwing themselves into Casey Nicholaw’s antic choreography. Director/choreographer Nicholaw, best known for “Book of Mormon,” keeps the tempo relentless and the spirits high, but the name-dropping schtick is a one-trick pony that gets nearly ridden to death in this madcap lampoon of all things Elizabethan.
“Rotten” slices and dices the Shakespearean canon until it’s as cheesy as a Denver omelette, The rub is that once you’ve heard one Shakespeare gag, you’ve heard them all, The plot’s a nonstop Bard put-down, The preening peacock Will (a wonderfully funny Adam Pascal of “Rent” fame) is the rock star of the London literary scene and he has a lock on box office returns, so Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel Bottom (a nuanced Josh how to sew elastic on pointe shoes Grisetti) decide to up the ante with a new genre, Nick pays a soothsayer to predict what the future holds for the theater and the prediction is for — wait for it — musical comedy, Enter the “Hamlet” parody known as “Omelette: The Musical,” which leaves the brothers with a lot of egg on their faces..
Both Shakespeare and Broadway get a drubbing here which is kind of fun, for a little while. There are some funny bits, particularly Nostradamus’ (an astute Blake Hammond) epic song and dance number summoning the ghost of musicals yet to come in a massive name-checking chorus line. He shimmies and sashays from “Les Miz” to “Avenue Q” in a cheeky showstopper (“A Musical”) that goes so far over the top it’s upside down. If you have even a passing familiarity with the American musical theater idiom, this song will make you titter as the jazz hands and in-jokes hit the fan.
Alas, there is really nowhere to go from there, Written by John O’Farrell, Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick, this metatheatrical Renaissance romp seems determined to celebrate the middlebrow impulse, Songs like “I Hate Shakespeare” and “The Black Death” feel uninspired, It’s a bit like “Spamalot” if you take away the Monty Python stuff, Despite McClure’s engaging performance as the ink-stained wretch Nick and Pascal’s (“Rent”) stylish strutting as the leather-clad Billy Idol-style rock god, moaning that it’s “Hard to be the Bard,” the play is not quite the thing here, The shtick how to sew elastic on pointe shoes is the real star of the show, from the groaner puns spewed by a mincing Puritan preacher (Scott Cote) who seems obsessed with bottoms to the overstuffed codpieces and the fangirls holding up candles (the precursor to the lighter) at the Shakespeare concert..
The elastic-limbed choreography is consistently eye-catching and the costumes are pithy, but the words or the observations rarely get anywhere near as noteworthy as the production values. In the funniest and most insightful joke of the evening, the moment that had the audience roaring with applause, the soothsayer has premonitions about musicals in the future. He gets flashes and images but nothing definitive. For instance he knows you have to solve a problem like Maria and he knows there are people called Nazis. When asked if these Nazis are good or bad, he demurs.
He confesses that he’s not certain, adding, “but I think it’s really important to get that bit right.”, That ingenious joke alone showed the promise that the rest of the show might achieve if there were any grit to the wordplay, Suddenly “Something Rotten” had the delicious allure of the zeitgeist, Instead of making fun of low-hanging how to sew elastic on pointe shoes camp fruit like “Cats” and “Hair,” the musical finally touched a nerve beyond kitsch, If the writers had a few more zingers like that in this Elizabethan reboot, the comedy would be truly fresh..