Ottawa Event Review: Something Rotten! By Orpheus Musical Theatre

Orpheus Musical Theatre brings their stellar 2022-23 season to a close over the next two weeks with their final show, Something Rotten! Their first two shows of the season, Newsies and Memphis, set the bar exceptionally high, but if there is one thing I know about Orpheus, it’s that they don’t disappoint! Something Rotten! is certainly no exception.

This show runs at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe, which continues to provide the perfect backdrop for Orpheus’ larger than life shows. This venue is big enough that going there feels like an event, while at the same time, is small enough that the audience can get completely immersed in the action. The bar in the lobby has a good mix of drinks, while the lobby area itself provides ample space to mingle with fellow patrons. As an added bonus, unlike many other theatrical venues in the city, Meridian offers tons of close parking spaces…for free!

I arrived on opening night not knowing anything about Something Rotten! I had no idea what the story was about, but because it was an Orpheus production, I had high hopes for an entertaining evening nonetheless. I came to learn that the story is about two brothers who are trying to make it as playwrights alongside Shakespeare during the renaissance period. But if you aren’t a fan of Shakespeare, not to worry! This musical is fantastic, and one’s ability (or lack thereof!) to understand iambic pentameter will have no bearing on their enjoyment of this show.

In true Orpheus fashion, the level of professionalism in every element of Something Rotten! was second-to-none. Everyone involved in this production appeared to be truly skilled: from the performers, to those who did the costumes, the makeup, the props and the versatile sets. The show was hilarious, and I can honestly say that I was laughing (as was the rest of the audience!) for over two hours straight. Without giving too much away: when you see it, be prepared for scene 5, and count how many different musicals are referenced! I counted quite a few, but I am certain that I am missing some, so come back and comment below if you think you caught them all!

Standout Performances:

Every now and again, there is an Orpheus cast SO PHENOMENAL that this section is truly challenging to write. Something Rotten! is one of those shows. I recognized so many all-star performers from previous Orpheus shows that I have loved! This show almost felt like an “Orpheus’ Best-of-All-Time-Reunion,” because there was so much talent on that stage. Everyone was amazing! That being said, there are some that stood out among the rest:

Brendan Finnerty as Robin:

Photo: Maria Vartanova

I love when an actor who is not a lead character steals the show, and this was absolutely the case with Finnerty! Immediately out of the gate, he had the audience in stitches, appearing as Robin, in a dress, as he tried to, ‘’get into character.’’ I laughed so hard! Everything about Finnerty: his stage presence, his mannerisms, the way that he delivered his dialogue, was perfection. He is captivating to watch, stealing multiple scenes. As he is somewhat new to the Ottawa theatre scene, I had only seen him in one other show: the Greely Players’ recent production of Cinderella, in which he was also fantastic. However, I think he is one to watch…he is absolutely lead actor material! I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him!

D.J Eyamie as Nick Bottom:

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Wow! Eyamie absolutely killed it in this role. Vocals: incredible. Dancing: phenomenal (especially the tap!) Acting: flawless. It seems that there is nothing that this talented actor cannot do, and Eyamie made everything look so effortless, which I feel is the mark of a very gifted performer. Eyamie is no stranger to my Standout Performances list, as you may recall from my review of Rock of Ages. Once again, I really enjoyed every scene of his!

Andrea Black as Bea:

Photo: Maria Vartanova

It comes as no surprise that Black has been with Orpheus for 25 years: she is the definition of a triple threat! You might remember her from my review of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I would be amiss if I didn’t particularly mention her exceptional vocal performance in this show, which led to goosebumps for audience members more than once! She was also just SO likeable in her portrayal of Bea. Kudos to Black on another fantastic performance! She is such a gift to the Ottawa theatre scene…we hope to see her on stage for the next 25 years (or more!)

Rejean Dinelle-Mayer as Nostradamus:

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Dinelle-Mayer’s performances are always fantastic, but he took things to the next level with this one! The audience was in tears in almost every one of his scenes, but particularly during the song, ‘A Musical.’ He brought so much energy and life to the stage during this show; he was absolutely a joy to watch. Is there any role that he can’t do? I think not!

Julie Seguin as Portia:

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Seguin is always a standout performance; she is such a talented singer! However, beyond that, in this show, her portrayal of Portia was hilarious! This character could have been portrayed a number of ways, but Seguin’s goofy, yet sweet, take on her was absolutely perfect. The audience really seemed to enjoy her scenes!

Cooper Dunn and Jamie Cachero, Ensemble:

Both of these talented performers are still in high school, which is unbelievable when you see the professionalism and talent that they bring to Orpheus’ shows. Both were in ALL THREE of Orpheus’ shows this season (no easy feat, given the time commitment undoubtedly required!) and both absolutely captivated the audience with their charisma and dance abilities. When people are this talented at such a young age, it is abundantly clear that they will achieve great things! I hope to see more of these two next season!

No review would be complete without giving due credit to the army working tirelessly behind-the-scenes! First, I’d like to give a shout-out to Tiara Wallace and Kim Shields for their fantastic hair and makeup design, everyone looked amazing on stage! Next, as mentioned previously, the costumes were incredible, so kudos to Cynthia Sanoy for designing such a fantastic wardrobe, it was really reflective of the renaissance times! Another shoutout to Orpheus regular Monique Ecroyd for her excellent work on the props for this show; this is her 9th Orpheus production, and I would imagine it presented some challenges, given the era. Lastly, I’d like to mention Laura Duncan who took on the task of set design. It appears that Orpheus raises the bar for set design each season. Laura created an incredibly versatile, functional, and professional set that really helped set the scene for this show.

Something Rotten! Started on Friday June 2nd and runs daily until the 11th (except for Monday the 5th) at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe. Tickets range from only $32 – $57, which is an absolute steal given the Broadway-caliber performance of Orpheus shows. When you go, see how many references to other musicals you can pick out!

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