SUNY JCC Uncommoners to Present ‘Something Rotten’ on Jamestown Campus

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Mark W. Sasse, new arts programming administrator for SUNY JCC
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SUNY Jamestown Community College

A hilarious mashup of Shakespearean England and 21st century Broadway will make its “rotten” way to SUNY Jamestown Community College’s Scharmann Theatre this month.

“Something Rotten” tells the tale of an aspiring playwright who is encouraged by Nostradamus to best Shakespeare by writing a musical. Show dates are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18, and 2 p.m. Nov. 12 and 19. General admission is $20; students, senior citizens (60 and older) and members of the JCC Faculty Student Association are $17; and JCC students with student identification are $10. Tickets may be purchased at sunyjcc.edu/Uncommoners.

“Something Rotten” is based on a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, with music by Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick, through special arrangement with Musical Theater International. The production is directed by Julie Costantini, choreographed by Jennie Caruso, and produced by Mark W. Sasse, new arts programming administrator for SUNY JCC.

Prior to coming to JCC, Sasse taught theater for six years at the American International School of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His passion for theater emerged during a 15-year tenure teaching history, and ultimately also theater, at an international school in Malaysia.

“While organizing an afterschool program, someone asked if anyone wanted to do a play, and I said yes, I would write and produce one with the students,” Sasse said. “I don’t even know why I said that, I had never written a play in my life. We did it and everyone loved it, so we kept doing it and everyone got hooked.”

Sasse’s playwriting evolved to include historical fiction and fantasy books. He has 12 independently-published novels, and is preparing to release another in the coming weeks. Character development is a piece of writing that carries over into his work in the theater, and he enjoys helping students work through this process during rehearsals whenever possible.

“Theater is truly a collaborative effort and I’m happy to be part of it,” Sasse said. “Developing new talent and working with people who have never been on stage before is where my strength lies.”

While character development may sound like a heavy process, Sasse says audiences should prepare to laugh often when they see “Something Rotten.”

“It’s a super-hilarious mashup between Shakespearean England and modern musical theater,” Sasse said. “There are lots of references to so many different Broadway shows. It’s really funny, kind of irreverent — the audience will have a blast.”

The cast for “Something Rotten” includes Kaden Weber as Nick Bottom, Titus Miller as Nigel Bottom; Brandon Milanowski as Shakespeare, Morgan Tobio as Bea, Steve Wendell as Nostradamus, Holland Isaacson as Portia, Brandon Kohlepp as Brother Jeremiah, Daman Holland as Robin/Puritan/ensemble, Ethan Tyger as Lord Clapham/Puritan/ensemble, Max Tyger as Shylock/ensemble, Camden Drayer as Peter Quince/ensemble, Colin Drayer as Master of Justice, Caleb Roller as Snug/Chef/Bard Boy, Drew Roller as Tom Snout/Chef/Bard Boy, Kayla Malika Walker as Sad Egg/Puritan/ensemble, Chris Johnson as Francis Flute/Puritan, Mike Giambelluca as Puritan/Egg/Eyepatch Man/Foreman/ensemble, Missy Wilcox as Waitress/ensemble, Ayri Brady as Grim Reaper/ensemble/Puritan, Christine Panebianco as Puritan/Chef/Helena/ensemble, Marisa Skinner as Puritan/Chef/Helena/Bard Babe/ensemble, Aly Dalton as Reaper/Puritan/Egg/ensemble, Isaac Sinatra as Minstrel/Horatio/Puritan, Jennie Caruso as Egg/ensemble, and Cal Boozel, Annie Davis, and Brandon Yoris rounding out the ensemble.

Sasse recently held a theater meet and greet at the Cutco Theater on JCC’s Cattaraugus County Campus, and plans to bring future productions to the newly-upgraded facility. Auditions are planned for a joint-campus production slated for February, and writing workshops will lead up to entirely student-driven productions this spring.

“We’re going to offer things we haven’t before,” Sasse shared. “We all have a story to tell, and our own unique voice. I want to instill in our students the value of their creativity.”