Night after night, the fifth number in the hit show “Something Rotten!” earns an early standing ovation. It’s called “A Musical,” sung by unreliable soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus as he explains to baffled Elizabethan-era writer Nick Bottom what the next big thing in theater will be: musicals.
Director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw and music arranger Glen Kelly fashioned the song into a literal showstopper with a cascade of references to famous musicals, characters and choreographers.
HOW MANY MUSICALS YOU CAN COUNT WITHIN THIS MUSICAL?
WATCH A PREVIEW OF THE NUMBER BELOW.
CREATING A SHOW STOPPING MUSICAL
Associate director Steve Bebout remembers how the number came together:
“Glen and Casey sat and talked through the number, then as Casey’s imagination got going, he’d say something like, ‘And then we go into a section that feels like ‘Big Spender,’ and Glen sits at the piano and figures out a way to weave that bit of melody into the dance arrangement.
“The number is really Casey at his best. It gets you to a fever pitch, then steps back and says, ‘Wait, not quite yet.'” He puts the audience on a yo-yo. Nobody’s got a feel for playing with the audience like Casey does. It’s really remarkable.”
A MUSICAL FOR EVERYONE
However, the creators point out knowing a lot about Broadway isn’t integral to the audience’s enjoyment.
“It wears its heart on its sleeve and is full of joy and laughter and energy,” Bebout said. “‘A Musical’ is the perfect distillation of that.”