Something Rotten! Something Sweet! Eating Cupcakes And Meeting Broadway Actors
Today, I took a cupcake break with two people who made me laugh for a solid two hours last night: Rob McClure and Maggie Lakis.
They’re the stars of “Something Rotten!”, the Broadway musical playing at the Orpheum through this Sunday. I’ll get to my quick Q&A with them, but first let me tell you about the cupcakes and this show.
First, the cupcakes: Huge thank you to 2 Girls and a Whip who made these adorable “Something Rotten!” themed cakes – which will make wonderful sense if you see the show, promise. Read more about their downtown cakery here.
Then, the show: It’s the story of two brothers in the Renaissance who are competing with Shakespeare. They hate Shakespeare (really, there’s a song called “God, I Hate Shakespeare”) and they desperately need to write a hit.
One brother, Nick, goes to a soothsayer for inspiration and finds out that the future of theater is…musicals. So they try to write the world’s first musical.
I have never laughed this much at a show. And the singing and dancing and acting were on point, too. There are references to all your favorite musicals, but I’d say 90 percent of the humor is just funny because it’s funny, no need to be an expert of the Bard or Broadway.
I don’t want to give too much away, so instead I’ll share with you a few of the thoughts that went through my head while watching it.
(Note: The adult humor and innuendo makes this show PG-13, and so my thoughts will be, too. Proceed at your own risk.)
—That first song just cracked my shit up. I was not expecting that!
—Did they just rhyme “penis” with….genius?
—UGH I hate this Shakespeare, too! But he’s kind of hot.
—I think my dad would actually like this show, and he is not a musical kind of guy.
—Plague jokes. Tap dancing. This is great.
—This lady [Bea Bottom] is my hero. Badass woman, just out here TCB. Get ’em, Bea!
—They can’t be committing to this one joke…oh…YES THEY ARE. They’re really doing this.
—The Puritan Father is my new favorite “villain” in all of Broadway-dom. He’s too much.
OK, now that I’ve sufficiently sold it, here’s a quick recap of my Q&A with Rob and Maggie, the cutest onstage/in-real-life couple ever.
Holly: Hi! Tell us about yourselves and your characters.
Rob: I’m Rob McClure. I grew up in New Jersey, started doing theater in high school and I’ve been doing it professionally for 20 years. I play Nick Bottom. Shakespeare fans will know the character of Nick Bottom from Midsummer Night’s Dream, but you don’t have to be an English major to enjoy the show.
He is a playwright in the Renaissance who is competing with Shakespeare, who he hates because – let’s face it – he’s jealous of his success.
Maggie: I’m Maggie Lakis. I’m from Philadelphia, been acting for about 20 years. I am very lucky to be doing this! I play Bea Bottom. We play a married couple and we are married in real life.
In the show, Bea knows something’s bothering Nick, but he’s got pride issues and he’s not sharing with her. She wants to help the family, but it’s the Renaissance, so women are not allowed to work. So she has to be a little sneaky. She dons a bunch of disguises, in the tradition of Shakespeare, women wearing men’s clothing. It’s fun, I get to play a person who plays other people I get this great song at the beginning, and then I get to be silly for the rest of the show.
Rob: Her song is one of my favorites; it’s called “Right Hand Man”, when she’s trying to convince me to let her help. If you haven’t heard Maggie sing – you should hear Maggie sing.
Holly: So wait – the two are you are married in real life???! That’s too cute. How did you meet?
Rob: We met in a production of Grease in New Jersey playing Doody and Frenchie in 2005. It was pretty immediate.
Maggie: Yeah, the connection was pretty quick. There’s a lot of sitting around and waiting on tech – you’re holding for lights – and that’s when you usually get to know each other.
Rob: I remember there was a scene in Grease where we were outside on picnic blankets. And we tech-ed that scene for hours and I just remember sitting on that blanket, laughing and laughing. That’s when she told me that her favorite movie is JAWS and I was like, “OK I dig this chick.”
Maggie: I knew he liked me because he kept saying – at the time I was dating someone – but he kept saying “If you were single, I’d marry you.”
Rob: It was really subtle.
Holly: When you first read “Something Rotten!”, what surprised you about it?
Maggie: It’s a new show; it’s not an adaptation of a movie or a book, and it’s not a revival. That’s something that’s hard to come by these days. It gives you that unabashedly classic musical theater experience: you get the beautiful costumes and the amazing production numbers and you get laughs – lots of laughs – it gives you everything.
Rob: If you love musicals and you love Shakespeare, then you’ll love the show. If you hate Shakespeare or hate musicals, you’ll love it as well. It pays tribute to these things while simultaneously making fun of them.
Holly: Yeah, I think my dad might actually like this one.
Rob: It’s such an accessible experience, because it’s so funny – funny to anyone. People have a really good time.
Holly: Why should people go see the show?
Rob: You should come see “Something Rotten!” because it’s been crafted by geniuses. Casey Mc , who directed this, was choreographer on Spam-A-Lot, directed Book of Mormon, directed Aladdin. if you like laughing, he’s literally an expert on making you laugh. He’s a genius of a choreographer, and there’s throwbacks to big musical theater numbers.
Maggie: Lots of tap dancing. Also, you know, it’s a show where you can kind of turn off from the world a little bit. It’s not a topical show. There might be a couple lines…but it’s actually not a topical show. You can go and turn off your phone and sit back and relax and you’ll feel like you can just enjoy yourself.
Holly: It’s a really fast-paced show, too.
Rob: Right, there’s no time for you to get distracted, it starts and it doesn’t relent until it’s over and people are willing to go along with the ride because it’s a fun one.
Holly: Is this y’all’s first time in Memphis?
Maggie: It’s our second. We were here ten years ago – when we were dating, we were touring with Avenue Q – so this is our second time. It’s awesome to go back to the places we loved last time and then to see all the new places. We’re going to Graceland, Sun Studio, the Civil Rights Museum.
Rob: Maggie is going to be honorary Duckmaster at the Peabody on Friday! I can’t wait!
[Here we descend into a whole conversation about where to eat and barbecue. I tell them about BBQ nachos.]
Holly: Thanks y’all!
Get more info about Something Rotten! and get your tickets on the Orpheum’s website.