Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Cast member Blake Hammond chats with Hotspots

The completely original new musical Something Rotten!, directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin), with music and lyrics by Grammy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Wayne Kirkpatrick and Golden Globe Award and Tony Award nominee Karey Kirkpatrick and a book by Tony Award nominees Karey Kirkpatrick and best-selling author John O’Farrell, comes to the Straz Center’s Morsani Hall March 7-12 as part of the Bank of America Best of Broadway Tampa Bay series also sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times.

This hilarious new musical comedy tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, two playwrights stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star Will Shakespeare. When a soothsayer foretells the next big thing in theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, the Bottom brothers set out to write the world’s very first MUSICAL! With the most singing, the most dancing and the most gut-busting laughs on Broadway, it’s something wonderful … something for everyone … It’s Something Rotten!, “the funniest musical comedy in at least 400 years” (Time Out New York)!

Nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Something Rotten! comes to Tampa with three principal cast members direct from Broadway: Rob McClure as Nick Bottom, Adam Pascal as Shakespeare and Josh Grisetti as Nigel Bottom.

The touring cast also features Maggie Lakis as Bea, Blake Hammond as Nostradamus, Autumn Hurlbert as Portia, Scott Cote as Brother Jeremiah and Jeff Brooks as Shylock.

Rounding out the ensemble are Lucy Anders, Kyle Nicholas Anderson, Kate Bailey, Daniel Beeman, Brandon Bieber, Mandie Black, Nick Rashad Burroughs, Ian Campayno, Pierce Cassedy, Eric Coles, Drew Franklin, Juliane Godfrey, Leah Hofmann, Kristie Kerwin, Ralph Meitzler, Patrick John Moran, Joel Newsome, Con O’Shea-Creal and Tonya Thompson.

The award-winning design team of Broadway veterans includes Scott Pask (scenic design), Gregg Barnes (costume design), Jeff Croiter (lighting design), Peter Hylenski (sound design), Josh Marquette (hair design), Phil Reno (music direction / conductor), Glen Kelly (arrangements), Larry Hochman (orchestrations), Steve Bebout (associate director), and casting by Telsey + Company/Bethany Knox, CSA.

It was a pleasure to sit down with Blake Hammond for this Hotspots Exclusive interview:

Were you always a performer, even as a kid or when did you get “the bug”?

I performed as a kid for my mom on the fireplace, but I started doing theater late in High school. I then studied at the University of Texas in Austin in the theater program. I was lucky enough to go there on scholarship.

What was your first professional/paid gig?

My first paid gig was when I did summer stock in university. I was 19 years old.

Other than Nostradamus, what has been your favorite role to play and why?

I have two favorites. The first is when I played Edna Turnblad in Hairspray on Broadway. This was so great because it was my first time on Broadway and what a great part to play. The other one was The Adams Family where I played Uncle Fester. It was really fun to play a 10 year old boy in a 35 year old’s body. I got to be a kid every night.

What is your Fantasy role to play?

I have to say I would love to sing the songs of Jean Val Jean from Les Miserables, but it’s not the type or role I am usually cast in.

You have received L.A. Critics, Carbonell, Chicago After Dark and Indy Soap awards. How does it feel when you get these awards and does it ever get less nerve racking?

No, it does not get less nerve racking. I think awards are interesting because it’s hard to say who is the best, but I must admit, it is fun to hear your name being called.

What should the Central Florida audiences expect from this production of the Something Rotten?

It is the funniest show I have ever been in, so expect tons of laughs. Our producer, Kevin McCullum, calls it “The Make America Laugh Again Tour.” Also, the cast of this production are absolutely lovely. They are bunch of fun people, and I think it shows on stage.

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Something Rotten! will play the Straz Center’s Morsani Hall, March 7-12. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Regularly priced tickets are $31-$83, and may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at Handling fees will apply.