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Shakespeare & Beyond

Something Rotten: An interview with the Broadway musical creators Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick

Something Rotten
Something Rotten
Something Rotten

Cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. © Jeremy Daniel

Two brothers living in England in 1595 have had their playwriting careers upended by the arrival of a new guy from Stratford upon Avon, William Shakespeare. That’s the plot of Something Rotten, a new musical that opened on Broadway in 2015. Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick (also brothers!) are the co-authors, along with John Farrell.

On the Folger’s Shakespeare Unlimited podcast, Karey and Wayne share more about Something Rotten, their perspective on Shakespeare, and how it all came together.

Here are some highlights from the full interview, which you can listen to on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, or NPR One.

On first encounters with Shakespeare

Karey Kirkpatrick

I took “Intro to Shakespeare” in ninth grade and hated it. And my teacher was not very good. It wasn’t until I did Romeo and Juliet as a senior and played Romeo and that’s when I started realizing, “oh, it’s really not meant to be read, it’s meant to be performed.” And then the more I got into it, I was like, “oh, this is fun to, you know: ‘Gallop apace you fiery-footed steeds!’” And it’s like, “wow, this language is pretty amazing.”

Their inspiration for Something Rotten

Wayne Kirkpatrick

I don’t know that spoofing Shakespeare was the initial idea. We just, we wanted to write a musical. And actually we don’t really know how the idea came about, it was so organic. You know, there was a lot of: “what if two writers were just trying to write a hit and they were constantly in the shadow of the guy that everything he wrote turned to gold?” And each of us, we all have someone that is always doing a lot better than we are.


Saw it in St. Louis. OUTstanding.

David Houghton — March 7, 2017