The stage is set when a charming minstrel, (Nick Rashad Burroughs) graces the stage to set the scene to welcome us to the Renaissance in London, England. His funny exaggerated facial expressions are amplified when the entertaining ensemble joins in the welcome song to add enjoyable dance moves to amuse the audience. They sing about new modern things which makes the audience laugh, as they are old to us. The tone was set for comedy and the cast delivered.
The story begins with two brothers from Cornwall. They are trying to write an original play. Nick Bottom (Rob McClure) is a delightful and entertaining character. He is not fond of Shakespeare and delivers a hilarious song in a fabulous voice about why he hates him. Nigel Bottom (Josh Grisetti) is the poet of the family. He likes Shakespeare, although he hides this from his brother. The rest of the residents of the area however love Shakespeare.
Shakespeare (Adam Pascal) is quite comical. He is kind of a cross between Elvis and Billy Idol. The villagers go crazy if he just touches their hand. He was “the Will of the People”. Candles were brought out (like lighters and cell phones at concerts) as just one of the shticks. “Where there’s a Will, there’s a way” he said. His exaggerated character is quite the spoof. His scenes add to the hilarity of the show. And it follows the theme of modernizing certain things, like the dance steps to make the audience giggle. He seems, however to be the only character to be attempting a British accent, which makes me wonder why the rest of the cast sounds quite American. Much of the humor however, is adding modern American terms, so, I was unsure as to why Shakespeare had an accent.
The wonderful choreography adds to the humor of the show. Nick Bottom enlists the help of a soothsayer, Nostradamus (Blake Hammond) to help him come up with a play of future popularity to best Shakespeare. When the soothsayer suggests doing a musical, he blurts out many future terms such as “Cats,” which taken out of context is quite humorous. Many of his future musical visions, such as “raindrops upon Rosencrantz” had the audience laughing. The soothsayer saw things of the future in humorous disarray. Chimney sweeps and a fiddler on the roof was added to the shtick. The choreography follows along and spoofs many iconic and recognizable dance moves from other shows. Malaprops also keep the audience laughing. Brother Jeremiah (Scott Cole) often had the audience giggling at his syllable emphasis and malaprop use. His timing and delivery was excellent.
One of the biggest laughs of the show included Grim Reapers tap dancing with sickles singing about the black death. One would have to see it for oneself to understand the hilarity. The amazing tap dancing also added to the show. Shakespeare and Nick even did a competitive tap dance together. It was wonderful to see such a versatile tapping ensemble.
It is also important to mention the gorgeous voices and amazing facial expressions of both Nick’s wife Bea (Maggie Lakis) and Nigel’s girlfriend Portia (Autumn Hurlbert). Both were literally quite noteworthy.
Also fabulous was many of the costumes. Shakespeare dressed in disguise at one point to foil Nick’s plans. And the dancing eggs and omelets are not to be missed. I also quite loved the versatile set which adapted the tutor house into many other scenes.
One could go on on and about how funny and well-acted this production is. Kevin McCollum, the producer said “I love the show. It’s a brilliant company and to have this quality of the cast on the road is stunning.” I tend to agree.