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Loveland High School's SOMETHING ROTTEN

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Welcome to the Renaissance: William Shakespeare, played by Paul Laufersweiler, is adored

by his fans in the opening number of Loveland High School’s production of Something Rotten.

Review by Samantha Heilman, Highlands High School Critic Team

From tap battles to tomato throwing, cross-dressing, and poem writing, Loveland High School’s Something Rotten brilliantly brought Shakespeare’s timeless and iconic quote: “All the world’s a stage,” to life. Their vibrant and animated energy infused their theatre with laughter, iconic references, and bold character portrayals.

The show delves into the intricate stories and relationship of the Bottom Brothers, Nick and Nigel, who have been continuously outshined by rocking writer, William Shakespeare. Following the counsel of soothsayer Nostradamus, Nick crafts an omelette-themed musical, disregarding the eloquent writing of his younger brother.

Loveland High School’s rendition of the mainstream show was captivating, enriched by unique embellishments such as a rotten tomato-throwing spectacle. The choreography, featuring multiple tap sequences, was skillfully polished by student dance captains Sophia Herbon and Marcel Mangan. Loveland's production exhibited remarkable spirit and masterful execution.

Ethan Shepherd and Liam McCracken captured the essence of Nick and Nigel respectively. Shepherd’s impeccable timing of lines and jokes coupled with dramatic body language brought elements of depth to a comedic character, showcasing the subtleties of his performance. His acting prowess shone in songs such as “God I Hate Shakespeare,” and was further complemented by his vocal abilities. McCracken’s characterization of Nigel exuded sweet-natured charm. His initial timid inflection and demeanor set the stage for a gratifying transformation as he stood up for himself and his play against his charismatic older brother.

Bringing the story’s conflict was Paul Laufersweiler as the esteemed Shakespeare. Laufersweiler blended charisma and comedy in his confident movement and spontaneous improvisation. The grandiosity of the distinguished character was impressively accomplished in his various scenes and songs, particularly in the Act 1 tap battle.

Beyond the actors, the meticulous set work of Izzy Bisogni, Luke Jacobs, Isaac Endress, and crew seamlessly transported audiences into 1595 London. The adept team built a Tudor-styled chapel center stage that unfolded to reveal the interior of the Bottom theatre, complete with a makeshift stage for the Troupe. This set was excellently accentuated by the lighting design of Jay Matusak, Eleanor Klein, Evie Hooper, and Izzy Bisogni. They expertly operated a new lighting program, installed only a mere 2 weeks before the show opening. The strategic use of accent lights and colored fixtures imbued each scene with a unique atmosphere, highlighting both principal actors and ensemble.

By the conclusion of the Bottoms’ story, a plethora of bedazzling moments were shared within the enthusiastic cast and underscored by the tenacious craftsmanship of the crew. Despite the unconventional act of throwing tomatoes by audience members, the experience was not one of disdain but of jubilant celebration.

Right Hand Man: Bea, played by Riley Loomis, describes a better future for women to her

husband Nick Bottom, played by Ethan Shepherd, in Loveland High School’s production of

Something Rotten.

Review by Norah Shadwell, Highlands High School Critic Team

Welcome to the Renaissance, where there's flying tomatoes, competitive poets, and an ensemble of dancing eggs! Loveland High School’s production of Something Rotten! was a captivating experience that had the audience cackling in their seats.

The 2015 premiering musical Something Rotten!, written and composed by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick with friend John O’Farrell, follows brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom as they struggle to make a name for themselves in the shadow of William Shakespeare’s massive theatrical success. Desperate to produce the next great idea, Nick visits a soothsayer to steal the bard's future masterpiece. However, absurdity occurs when the tragedy, Hamlet, is mistaken for a musical about singing omelettes.

Loveland’s performance brought incredible energy as a result of both the cast and crew. The ensemble did not waver in stamina in songs such as “A Musical," all while keeping a smile on their faces. Likewise, scene changes between the theater and the London street were seamless and of professional caliber.

Ethan Shepherd excelled in many aspects of his performance as the charismatic Nick Bottom. Shepherd’s continuous use of hand gestures animated his stage presence, while his ability to draw back from the boisterous movement in songs like “God I Hate Shakespeare Reprise” and “To Thine Own Self Reprise” gave the character a touching vulnerability, showing both Nick’s character development and Shepherd's acting range.

Another commander of the stage, Paul Laufersweiler, embodied the egocentricity of Shakespeare through his flamboyant physicality and haughty British accent while singing “Will Power” and “Hard to be the Bard.” Laufersweiler’s improvisational skills shined while the audience pummeled him with tomatoes, adding an extra level of spontaneous humor to his performance. Showcased in her powerful number “Right Hand Man”, Riley Loomis defied patriarchal norms while simultaneously portraying a supportive wife as Bea.

Makeup Crew, led by Grace Hepburn with Avery Colletto and Aubrey Hawks, worked collaboratively to design and execute the old age makeup and various wig changes throughout the show. Though 11 wigs had to be adjusted during a quick change, the crew worked with precision that showed onstage. Behind the scenes, stage managers Gabby Fronk and Tegan Caney delegated the movement of set pieces in the wings so that pathways for actors stayed clear. The crew's ability to solve issues quickly attests to their skill as responsible leaders.

With “bright lights, stage fights, and a dazzling chorus”, Loveland High School’s production of Something Rotten! showed that determination and passion can truly produce the highest quality of performance.

Black Death: The Bottom Brother’s Troupe performs the song “Black Death”, Nick Bottom’s

poor attempt at a musical, in Loveland High School’s production of Something Rotten.

Review by Addie Litner, Highlands High School Critic Team

From literature to architecture to musicals about breakfast, Loveland High School’s production of Something Rotten! put a modern twist on the Renaissance through a fiery cast and hardworking crew.

Written by John O'Farrelland Karey Kirkpatrick, Something Rotten! first hit the stage in 2015 and has been a must-see show ever since. This show is set in 16th-century London, otherwise known as the Renaissance, when creativity and art flourished. Something Rotten! follows Nick and Nigel Bottom and their competitive nature against the one and only Shakespeare, who seems to have found success sooner than his fellow playwrights.

The cast’s enthusiasm throughout the entire performance was exceptional and kept the audience fully engaged. Their energy matched the intense choreography, which added contemporary aspects to the Renaissance.

Nick Bottom played by Ethan Shepherd perfectly encompassed the struggling and envious playwright he was meant to be. Whether it was his wide range of emotions or his dynamics with every character, Nick Bottom’s need to succeed was emphasized with astounding vocals in songs such as “To Thine Own Self (Part 2).” Nigel Bottom, portrayed by Liam McCracken, balanced Nick’s somewhat egotistical personality by always staying true to himself. Nigel’s desire for romance and art is presented through a slightly awkward yet lovable character. Bea, played by Riley Loomis, was representative of many females in the Renaissance and their desire to make an impact on the world. This was especially prevalent in her song, “Right Hand Man."

It was clear the fame had gotten to Shakespeare, played by Paul Laufersweiler, as his character was arrogant and quick-witted. Whether he was stealing someone's work or getting tomatoes thrown at him, Laufersweiler portrayed an overdramatic celebrity completely. Another notable character was Nostradamus, played by Will Day, who went between the lines when creating his character. Nostradamus was full of physicality and caused lots of laughter when he was “predicting” the future, especially in his hit song, “A Musical.” Lastly, The Bottom Brothers’ Troupe truly acted as brothers. Their dynamic in songs such as “God I Hate Shakespeare”and “The Black Death” was both heartfelt and hilarious.

Hair and Makeup, led by Grace Hepburn with crew Avery Colletto and Aubrey Hawks, did extensive research before the show to create a vision for what they wanted the cast to look like. One specific example was Nostradamus, who had a massive gray wig and beard that made his character come to life. Sound, led by Luke Jacobs with crew William Gehring and Aidan Jody, had many challenging obstacles to overcome before the show. For example, they rented the majority of their mics and only had access to them three days before opening, however, these issues were not prevalent and it was clear that the sound crew's hard work and perseverance paid off throughout the performance.

The cast of Loveland High School’s production of Something Rotten! was filled with side-splitting jokes and powerful choreography that left many audience members cackling.

It’s A Musical: Nostradamus, played by Will Day, describes the future success of musicals to

Nick Bottom, played by Ethan Shepherd, as the ensemble performs to illustrate his vision in

Loveland High School’s production of Something Rotten.

Excerpts From Other Top Reviews

"Ethan Shepherd brought the charming yet stubborn Nick Bottom to life. His performance was complete with an excellent vocal tone, a deep understanding of the character, and some spectacular tap dancing. Opposing him was Paul Laufersweiler’s Shakespeare who truly stole the show at times. His improv and confident mastery of physical comedy was apparent and did not disappoint. The pair had a dynamic rivalry that carried throughout the show resulting in endless charisma and hilarity."

-Caroline Lovelace, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team

"Props selected and created by Audrey Smith, Issac Endress, and Madelyn George added an element of fun to this show. They creatively incorporated a mix of period-accurate props such as scrolls and old-fashioned looking signs, and items that hilariously referenced modern musicals, such as scrub brushes for Annie and a flag for Les Misérables."

-Catherine Foster, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team

"Portia, played by Liv Bast, faces similar struggles as she tries to navigate her forbidden love for poetry and Nigel. As the daughter of a Puritan leader, Portia learns to face the scrutiny of her father, Jeremiah played by Sam Alarcon. Alarcon’s performance as Brother Jeremiah was hilarious and a highlight of the show. Furthermore, Will Day’s Nostradamus was a clever and whimsical complement to the production."

-Isabel Frigon, Ursuline Academy Critic Team

"All the actors truly shined with the work of Jay Matusak, Eleanor Klein, Izzy Bisogni, and Evelyn Hooper on the lighting crew. For big numbers such as “A Musical,” colorful lights danced all around the theater, immersing viewers into the song. During the court scene, a beautiful spotlight made Nick, his wife Bea, and Nigel the center of attention during their heartfelt family moment."

-Adeline Durgin, Ursuline Academy Critic Team

"Nigel Bottom, the brother of Nick, was played by Liam McCracken with beautiful integrity. Whether it was running after his newfound love Portia, or being humble about his profound writing, he always felt true to himself thanks to the understanding Liam had for his character. Each acting choice, like kicking his foot shyly, was rooted in who the character was."

-Marie Rainey, Ursuline Academy Critic Team

"Whether it was the colorful costumes fitting to the time period or the interactive props or the multi-use sets, the actors truly couldn’t have done it without the technical elements. The show encouraged the audience to get involved which brought the liveliness to another level."

-Brooke Spurlock, William Mason High School Critic Team

"Overall, Loveland High School’s production of Something Rotten greeted the audience with its peacocky musical theatre interludes and left them with the valuable lesson 'To Thine Own Self' effortlessly."

-Elise Cherney, William Mason High School Critic Team

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