Something Rotten! Stars Look Back on Their First Time & How Rotten It Went
February 25th, 2015
by Josh Ferri
Here’s the premise (since it’s not based on a movie or book, you actually don’t know what’s going to happen yet): It’s 1590s England and playwrights Nick and Nigel Bottom are tired of living in the shadow of rock star Willy Shakespeare so they go about searching for the next big thing, and thanks to a soothsayer, the Bottom brothers end up creating the first musical.
So since Something Rotten! is all about that first ever musical, we asked the cast and creators to: tell us all about the first musical you ever performed in, and on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being move it to Broadway and 10 being dodge tomatoes) how rotten were you?
Brian d’Arcy James (Nick Bottom)
It was Bye Bye Birdie and I played Randolph MacAfee; I was well-cast because I was in 9th grade and I was about 3’9” and I got to sing the song “Kids.”
On the ‘rotten’ scale: I’d have to say 10. I was 10.
John Cariani (Nigel Bottom)
My first musical was Calamity Jane and I was a ticket taker. I was in it because they needed guys. I had to collect a ticket from the main actress and I had to give her a hard time and finally she pulls a gun on me; and people laughed and I thought, ‘Oh, this is awesome.’
On the ‘rotten’ scale: I thought I was pretty funny. I’ll give myself a 3.
Brad Oscar (Nostradamus)
The first musical I was ever in was Fiddler on the Roof, appropriately enough for a nice little Jewish boy. I was 12 years old and it was a summer program for kids at the Jewish Community Center. I played Motel the Tailor and I have audio of it still.
On the ‘rotten’ scale: Wow, I was at a 9. We knew there was potential, but…
Heidi Blickenstaff (Bea)
The first musical I was ever in was Hello, Dolly!; I was seven. Audra McDonald was also in that production—smell me. We both grew up in Fresno, California and were in the children’s ensemble at a dinner theatre called Roger Rocka’s Good Company Players. We were just in two numbers and I had fierce, fierce costumes. I wore spats and I had a great time; I totally caught the bug.
Brooks Ashmanskas (Brother Jeremiah)
It was a long time ago. I think it was a production of Barnum in high school. Where I was way too young—I was 14—and I played Barnum. And the first professional thing I did was A Chorus Line; I was 15 and I was Mark Anthony, the young one. God I was way too young to be around those people.
On the ‘rotten’ scale: I was pretty treacherous; probably a rotten 10, and I’m just as bad now as I was then.
Kate Reinders (Portia)
The first musical I was in was Gypsy in Michigan, summer stock theatre. Rita Moreno was playing Mama Rose and her real daughter was Louise. I was one of the newsboys and I did some cartwheels. And the Baby June was Baby June in the Tyne Daly Gypsy. It was a fancy summer stock.
Michael James Scott (Minstrel)
The first full musical I was in was Crazy for You. It was freshman year of high school and I played Moose, one of the trio boys and I had to sing in French. We learned all the original Stroman choreography actually, which was so crazy. I went to a performing arts high school and they took it very seriously, and I was like, 'I just want to sing and dance.'
On the ‘rotten’ scale: Even though I thought I was a 1, looking back I was a 6 or 7.
Kevin McCollum (Tony-Winning Producer)
The first real musical I was in at a real theatre and not at school was The Music Man. I played one of the kids and understudied Winthrop; I didn’t have a good enough lisp to actually get Winthrop. I didn't have that Ronnie Howard thing going…Then the first musical I worked backstage on was Sondheim’s Follies, and my mother played Phyllis. I ran spotlight, and I’ve been shining the spotlight on actors ever since.
John O’Farrell (Book)
I was a child actor and when I was 10, I made my debut on the West End as Christopher Robin in a musical of Winnie the Pooh. It was a big deal, the whole school came, and then I did films all the way through my teens.
On the ‘rotten’ scale: Oh, I hope I wasn’t too rotten since lots of people paid to come see me, including members of the Royal Family. I think I became rotten as I got older and saw myself on television.
Karey Kirkpatrick (Book, Music & Lyrics)
My first musical was Carnival at Baton Rouge High School, and I was in the chorus. I walked across the stage at a point when I wasn’t supposed to and the director screamed at me afterwards.
Wayne Kirkpatrick (Music & Lyrics)
Mine was You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and I was Charlie Brown. I was in the 11th grade.
On the ‘rotten’ scale: People didn’t say I was rotten, though I’m sure if there was video, I’d see I was a lot more rotten than I remember.
Something Rotten! begins previews at Broadway’s St. James Theatre on March 23.