‘God, I hate Shakespeare!’ Ukiah Gamers Theater launches season with ‘One thing Rotten!’ – The Ukiah Day by day Journal

(Left to right): Rayna Matthews, Chuck Mordock and Lilly Mayfield in Ukiah Players Theater’s ‘Something Rotten!’ opening Nov. 17. The Tony Award-Winning show is a rollicking sendup on Shakespeare and musical theater. (Carole Brodsky/for The Ukiah Daily Journal)

Musical theater. You either love it or you hate it. Shakespeare. You either love him or you can’t stand him. The great thing about Ukiah Players Theater’s season opener, “Something Rotten!” is that it will please both the lovers and the haters.

“Something Rotten!” Is a musical comedy derived from a book by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick, with music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick. The Shakespeare-infused sendup played 708 performances on Broadway and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and won a Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Jenny Peterman and Maria Monti are co-directing UPT’s performance, with choreography by Maria Monti, musical direction by Hannah Peterman and Erika Brewer and costume design by Judy and Jenny Peterman. This show features live music performed by “The Rotten Band:” Hannah Peterman, Tony Melville, Keith Feigan, Erika Brewer and Treaston Shmuckley. The show is underwritten by John Chan Plumbing, Black Oak Coffee Roasters and Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op.

“Something Rotten!” is an over-the-top spoof of both Shakespeare and musicals.

“I watched the show during quarantine, and laughed and laughed and laughed,” says Peterman. “I was committed that this would be UPT’s first musical when we came out of quarantine.”

Tim Fischer plays the role of Nick Bottom – one of two brothers who are writers and contemporaries of William Shakespeare. Students of Fischer, who moonlights as an English instructor at Ukiah High, will confirm his obsession with Shakespeare in real life. So this role couldn’t have been more perfect for him.

“The comedy has a Mel Brooks-ish, Frankenstein type of humor. It’s definitely dorky, and for those who get the references and layers of all the musical and Shakespearian jokes, there will be a lot of laughing,” Fisher smiles.

However, says Peterman, the show is laugh-out-loud funny regardless of whether you have read Shakespeare or seen even one musical theater show. Peterman gives the show a PG-13 rating. “We’d like parents to accompany their 13-and-up kids. There’s a little bit of randy innuendo in the show,” she notes.

Chuck Mordock plays Nigel Bottom, Nick’s love-sick brother, whose prose comes to the attention of Shakespeare, played by someone who will not be revealed in this story!

“When I heard the opening song, I had to audition,” said Mordock. “I’ll be in anything where I get to sing, ‘We have the latest gadgets and appliances.’ The humor is utterly tongue in cheek and it’s an incredible homage to Broadway.”

The cast – many of whom perform multiple roles – are Maria Monti, Nena Saucedo, Lilly Mayfield, Rayna Matthews, Eddie Haehl, Blare Elliot, Heidi Peterman, Kyra Cash, Kayla Harrison, Traci Hunt, Grey Wolfe-Smith, Pete Winslow, Lalo Torres, Audrey Sherf, Hannah Hinrichs and Sean Powell. Rayna Matthews is an incredible new addition to the UPT family and is not to be missed.

“These are choice performers. Just a superb cast. There is so much chemistry between Tim and Chuck, who are veteran actors but have never actually acted side by side,” says Peterman.

Choreographer Maria Monti is amazed by the cast’s talent.

“There’s lots of dancing in all styles in this show. It’s really a mishmash of theater dances and includes dance styles that audiences will recognize.” Monti makes a special appearance in the show, and taught several cast members tap dancing. “Tim Fischer took my second semester tap course at Mendocino College, and he’s doing great.”

“I’m dancing a little bit better than a sack of potatoes,” smiles Fischer.

This is Hannah Peterman’s first time as a musical director.

“Working with a live band is wonderful,” Peterman notes. She reads music and is the musical director for her church. “I’ve been thrown into a group of rock musicians who don’t read music, and the theater vernacular is not familiar to me, so I’m aiming to get them to hear what I’m seeing,” she smiles.

“They are absolutely wonderful,” says Monti.

Audiences will love the surprise Shakespeare cast member, says Peterman.

“Our Shakespeare is more Prince than Jaggar. This Shakespeare is a rock star. There are quite a few ‘80’s rock references. For our show, we flipped the art direction and put some funk into Shakespeare, who has soul and a personal soundtrack. All I’ll say about our Shakespeare is that they are a new face to the theater community, but someone you might recognize.”

Despite the dozens of modern theater references, Peterman chose to keep the costumes in the 1590’s time period.

“The costumes are fabulous. My mom flew out from Oregon to help with them. We were able to create Farthingales out of dollar store materials to keep the dresses light, because there are layers and layers of skirts. We’ve had tons of costumes and fabric donated over the years, so we sorted through everything and did a housecleaning project at the same time, which made the costumes affordable and definitely reusable for another production.”

This article won’t spoil the fun, but theater nerds everywhere try to identify the scores of references to other musicals throughout the show, including Cats, The Music Man, South Pacific, Chicago, Annie, Jesus Christ Superstar and Guys and Dolls – to name just a few.

“The feedback we’re getting is that many people saw the show in Broadway or San Francisco, and can’t wait to see it again. Come and enjoy us making fun of ourselves, and laugh yourself silly,” Peterman concludes.

The next shows in the UPT season are “Harvey,” directed by Eric Ward, opening Feb. 16, and “Through the Looking Glass,” directed by Traci Hunt, opening April 12.

Auditions for “Harvey” are being held in conjunction with Mendocino College’s “12th Night the Musical” auditions on Dec. 9 at 10 a.m.. Harvey auditions will be held in the college’s Little Theatre, and 12th Night auditions will be held in the dance rooms. No roles for Harvey are precast, so Peterman encourages any interested folks to try out.

“Something Rotten!” runs from Nov. 17 through Dec. 10. A new feature for this season is the option to purchase punch cards, which will give theatergoers a 15- to 25 percent discount on ticket prices. Punch card owners may use as many punches as they want for any regular season show, and the cards never expire. For ticket reservations or information about punch cards, visit or phone (707) 462-9226.

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