MIDVALE — There are few things more rewarding for a musical theatre fan than going to a great comedy put on with energy and pizazz by a community theatre company. Such is the case with the new production of the hilarious musical Something Rotten! at the Midvale Arts Council. Not only are the book (by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell) and score (by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick) a riot, but the cast and crew are up for the challenge throughout with terrific comic timing, excellent singing, and impressive acting chops as well.

Show closes June 10, 2023.

Unsurprisingly, this musical created by two brothers features a story about two brothers: Nick and Nigel Bottom (played by Zac Freeman and JT Kaufman, respectively). Nick is the leader of the group trying to put on theatricals with his acting troupe using the dialogue that his brother Nigel creates. As the story begins, they are working on a staging of Richard II, but they find out William Shakespeare is mounting his own version of Richard II (Nick’s response: “He’s already done Richard III. He can’t go backwards in time!”)

Shakespeare is the Bottoms Brothers’ supreme rival and is portrayed in this musical as a ridiculous combination of a rockstar and complete fop. Think of this as Monty Python’s version of Shakespeare, rather than anything historically accurate. It can be hard to pull off such a silly character, but James Carter wonderfully earns every laugh he can. I have seen Equity productions of this show, and Carter can match professional performances in humor and flair. Carter’s performance works so well because of how confident he is. He struts across the stage, irresistibly pulling attention towards him and getting the audience on his side. This is especially true with the “Hard to Be the Bard” number, which will left me in stitches.

Fortunately, it is not just Carter that inspires laughter in Something Rotten! The rest of the cast is up for the challenging physical comedy and witty banter. Freeman and Kaufman have a believable dynamic together as brothers, and both actors are capable of the antics the roles call for. I also enjoyed Katherine Tietjen as the poet-loving Portia and Jessie Kranz as Bea, Nick’s modern wife. Portia and Bea probably have the most double entendres, such as Portia’s strong responses to Shakespeare’s and Nigel’s sonnets saying lines like, “It touched me in places I didn’t know I could be touched.”

One of the highlights of this show is the boisterous anthem “A Musical” that the soothsayer Nostradamus sings to Nick as he predicts the future of Broadway musicals. This song contains many jabs at popular musicals like Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Dreamgirls, Cabaret, and more. Jim Dale brings a lot of energy to the role of Nostradamus, though I wish he and all the actors had enunciated the witty banter better. The poor diction of the actors at times makes it hard to get all the lyrics, which leaves the audience missing out on the jokes.

Although Something Rotten! relies mostly on the strength of the material and the performances, the production values are also strong at Midvale. Director Brighton Sloan uses the small space to its full advantage, bringing action out into the audience on occasion and using screen projections to create additional sets. There are some Elizabethan homes on the side of the stage and a few props (like a table or signs), but the simple visuals keep the focus on the actors and comedic sequences. The choreography by Tanaya Ropp brought a lot of energy to each scene, especially as in lighter moments. The kickline when “A Musical” is aping The Rockettes and the dancer-filled stage for Bottom Brothers’ musical Omelet (instead of Hamlet). And the costumes designed by Lauri Baird showed how funny a big Broadway show about eggs would be.

The Midvale Arts Council’s budget for Something Rotten! is small, but I did not feel I missed out on anything. The performances are really funny, and the material is just so good that the show is still a wonderful evening of community theatre. Newcomers and fans of Something Rotten! should head over to Midvale to check out this terrific cast as they poke fun at beloved musicals and the Bard himself.

The Midvale Arts Council production of Something Rotten! plays Thursdays through Saturdays and Mondays at 7:30 PM through June 10, with a 2 PM matinee on June 10 at the Midvale Performing Arts Center (695 West Center Street, Midvale). Tickets are $7-10. For more information, visit midvalearts.com.

These reviews are made possible by a grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks program.