SALT LAKE CITY — For Rob McClure and Maggie Lakis, the best part of performing as Nick and Bea Bottom in the national touring cast of “Something Rotten!” isn’t the applause at the end of the night. It’s watching each other.
“He barely leaves the stage (during the show) … and sometimes even though I come and go on the stage, I like to get there a little early and watch him leading up to my scene, just as a fan,” Lakis said.
“I get the best seat in the house for her big song in Act 1 called ‘Right Hand Man,’” McClure said. “The audience goes crazy at the end of it, and you can’t help but go, ‘Wow! That was awesome, babe!’ You can’t help but have a daily reminder of how extraordinary your spouse is.”
McClure and Lakis not only play a married couple onstage but they’re also the real deal. The performers have been married eight years, and Utah audiences will be able to see them when “Something Rotten!” makes a stop at Salt Lake’s Eccles Theater Jan. 9-14.
“Neither of us have ever been (to Salt Lake City), but … we have thousands of friends who have toured through Salt Lake with other shows and they all unanimously say, ‘You’re going to love Salt Lake,’ and you ask why and they say, ‘Just wait, you’re going to love it. The people there are great, the theater scene is really cool,’” McClure said. “We can’t wait.”
The two met 12 years ago during a production of “Grease” in New Jersey where she played Frenchy and he played Frenchy’s boyfriend, Doody. In the time they've been a couple, they’ve worked together five times and are relishing the 18 months they get to perform together in “Something Rotten!”
“Most of the time work takes you away from each other, so this is a great opportunity that we get to go away together,” Lakis said. “We are going away but our family kind of travels with us in a way because it’s he and I and our cat traveling the country together.”
“Something Rotten!” premiered in April 2015 at Broadway’s St. James Theatre and tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom who aspire to be playwrights in the 1590s — the same time as “rock star” William Shakespeare writes hit after hit. When a soothsayer predicts that the next big thing in theater will be stories told by singing and dancing, the brothers work to write the first-ever musical.
McClure played Nick Bottom on Broadway and was joined by Lakis playing the role of his wife Bea for the touring production, which McClure said has added context to his performance.
“Sometimes when people are playing spouses, they play up the lovey dovey aspect of it, which is of course adorable to any loving couple,” he said. “But I think what sometimes goes unseen is the sort of ease of being around someone who you spend so much time with and that you’ve got a history with, and I think the audience picks up on the fact that there is an ease between us because we’ve been through 12 years side by side.”
“We can kiss and it’s not awkward,” Lakis added with a laugh. “We have a physical vocabulary already together.”
Working closely together on tour also allows the couple to learn from one another. McClure has enjoyed seeing his wife navigate all the different instructions from the musical director, associate director and director to create a cohesive performance, and for Lakis, it’s been his dedication and stamina.
“He has total commitment, and he gives 100 percent of himself in every performance,” Lakis said. “The fact that he barely leaves the stage and is able to give so much of himself is just so admirable and impressive.”
Outside of performing, Lakis and McClure enjoy comic books, going on hikes and playing video games and also make a point of being tourists in every city they visit.
“Neither of us having traveled much before work took us away, so we really do try to get out and about in every city,” she said. “(Rob) expends a lot of energy in the show and yet somehow he has more energy than me in the off time.”
And while the two enjoy traveling the country and performing together, they also enjoy being able to be part of a show like “Something Rotten!” that gives audiences a chance to laugh.
"I know this sounds so cliche, but there really is something for everyone," McClure said, "because if you love musical theater, it is a love letter to musical theater. If you hate musical theater, the show is poking fun at the cliches of musical theater as much as it is celebrating them, and that goes for Shakespeare as well. … It really is a wonderful night at the theater, but more importantly it’s funny. It’s a break from the crazy world around us.”
If you go …
What: “Something Rotten!” national tour
Where: Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main
When: Jan. 9-14, times vary
How much: $35-$110