McLean High School
"Welcome to the Renaissance!" West Springfield High School's production of "Something Rotten!" roped the audience into the world of Shakespearean England, providing witty interpretations of favorite shows to create two and a half hours of unadulterated fun.
Set in 1595, "Something Rotten!" follows the two Bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel, as they struggle to find success in the competitive English theater industry, especially cutthroat with the recent rise in prominence of a new young writer: Shakespeare. When Shakespeare announces he's putting on the same show as the Bottom brothers, they're forced to seek an alternate route to success to avoid bankruptcy. Only, this alternate route is Thomas Nostradamus, the far less reliable soothsayer relative of Nostradamus. As they follow his bizarre predictions, the brothers devise a hilarious misinterpretation of "Hamlet" in both a heartwarming and hysterical twist on some of our favorite musicals.
Nick Frazier's portrayal of Nigel Bottom was grounded and focused, allowing him to reflect on every last mood shift. He truly captured the awkward but hopeful energy of Nigel, garnering sympathy for the character when cast aside by his brother and generating gasps from the audience in his touching performances in romantic scenes. This was complemented by his elegant voice and magnificent falsetto, which helped illuminate the intimacy and emotion of scenes. Where Nigel was an idealist, Nick, played by Nick Brunson, was a pragmatist. Brunson masterfully conveyed this contrast with his more rigid but hectic gestures, communicating both his stress and his position of authority. His vocals were nothing less than jaw-dropping, with a crystal-clear tone and powerful vibrato that made his intentions come through with an even stronger intensity. Brunson and Frazier played beautifully off each other in both comedy and conflict. No matter how heated their arguments got, it was always evident that the two cared deeply for one another, a difficult theme to highlight in subtlety.
Christopher Seeger, playing Nostradamus, fully embraced the absurdity of the plot. His consistent mannerisms and priceless facial expressions efficiently communicated his old age, which made his subsequent impressive tap routines even more shocking. Seeger's performance brought an entirely new energy to the show, and as he jumped and gestured through every square inch of the stage, this energy truly became contagious. Other standouts were Brother Jeremiah, played by Michael Tsougranis, whose eccentricities caused constant roars of laughter in the audience and Bea, played by Lydia Nelson, whose energetic belts made for some of the most compelling and vocally impressive songs in the show.
West Springfield High School's production of "Something Rotten!" would not have been able to support all its extravagance and massive cast without an equally massive effort from an efficient crew, and they certainly delivered. Costumes, headed by Alina Yang and Skylar Buchholz, created dozens of comical costumes, such as an entire line of ensemble members fitted in full-body egg and omelet suits--complete with displayable yolks. They also facilitated efficient quick changes, helping Nick Bottom change from his detailed Renaissance outfit into an entire angel costume in a matter of seconds. The hair and makeup team, headed by Anabelle Volpe, meticulously designed comprehensive looks for the cast, including convincing age makeup and reliable facial hair that helped establish the 1500s English feel. The Rotten Pit also stood out, playing difficult music flawlessly, seamlessly fitting into the score.
Despite the name, there was nothing rotten about West Springfield High School's production of "Something Rotten!", as they delivered a grounded yet energetic performance that never failed to make the audience laugh.
Fairfax High School
What can be said about a bunch of actors and crew from West Springfield High School putting on a highly comedic and talented show full of incomparable musical talent? Well, certainly anything but "Something Rotten!"
Premiering in 2015 by songwriters Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick with a corresponding book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, "Something Rotten!" follows the story of two brothers attempting to make it in the theater industry where everything is dominated by "Shakespeare this" and "Shakespeare that." Set in 1595 in London, England, Nick resorts to the words of a fortune teller who reveals the successes of the future--musicals! Attempting to put together the disaster that is "Omelet: The Musical," the Bottom brothers digest the importance of originality in one's own work, the love between friends and family, and a lot--a LOT--of eggs.
Like a haven for comfort, Nick Bottom (Nick Brunson) and Nigel Bottom (Nick Frazier) pulled the strings of all our hearts. Brunson, adhering to his character's ambitions of theatrical recognition, whipped out impressive belts that captured strong and determined esteem. Such was the work on "God, I Hate Shakespeare." When sung again in the playoff, the song told a new but vulnerable side to the character, including softer tones that convinced the audience of the range as both an actor and singer. Differently, Frazier, noticeably more timid, played polarizability when he uttered delicate sounds of music that resonated with his raw confessions for poetry. Even in "I Love the Way," he persisted with a passionate and almost pitiful approach to wanting something, or rather someone, that was forbidden. From craving the spotlight to yearning for poetic honesty, the Bottom brothers left the stage having fulfilled a cohesive, contrasting masterpiece.
Right from the get-go, Nostradamus (Christopher Seeger) knew exactly what gave the audience a good laugh. Every delivery was ripe of fruit, specifically bananas, because of its utter craziness that stole the air from the audience's lungs. From untimely, but comedically timely, blurts of theatrical references to exhausting the "hummms" out of spiritual manifestations, Seeger perfectly matched the insanity of his character. Even still, he disclosed a hint of wisdom and maturity amidst all the nonsense when warning Nick of the consequences that lay ahead--an acting skill of notable quality. For playing a crazy man, Seeger certainly was a genius.
With so much credibility, The Rotten Costume Crew and Sets department (Caroline Vo, Bridget Wagner, and The Rotten Set Crew) constructed something incredible! Every costume piece embraced color and suggested different attributes of each character. In particular, the stellar work of Nick's forest-green suit reflected his ambitious qualities that contrasted with Shakespeare's scandalous black attire, conveying their clashing personalities, and bringing the show to a whole new level. In a similar sense, both figuratively and literally, the set design introduced different levels that complimented picturization and appealed to a busy, flourishing town. Carvings and pillars constituted a silhouette accurate to its time period's architecture. Impressively, all their work opened a pathway to the realm of early London in the late sixteenth century.
Huzzah! Thou shalt confess that West Springfield High School's presentation of "Something, Rotten!" wast for'v'r square! In other words, they did undeniably well, dude!