There are technically two new Wills in town.
Will Chase, whom fans of Nashville will know as country mega-star Luke Wheeler, is returning to his Broadway roots — and you can call it a stage renaissance of sorts.
The Tony-nominated actor will step into the role of William Shakespeare in the hit musical Something Rotten!, EW has learned. He’ll replace Christian Borle, who earned a Tony for the role in its opening season in 2015 (Borle will depart the production on July 16 and will return to Broadway next season in both Falsettos in the fall and as Willy Wonka in the spring’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
Chase begins performances on July 18, along with fellow new principal cast members Leslie Kritzer (as Bea), Catherine Brunell (as Portia), and Josh Grisetti (as Nigel). Tony nominee Rob McClure recently joined the cast as Nick Bottom, replacing original star Brian d’Arcy James.
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Chase, who earned his first Tony nomination in 2013 as the villainous — depending on which show you attended — John Jasper in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Among his many other Broadway credits: Nice Work If You Can Get It, High Fidelity, Billy Elliot, The Full Monty, Aida, Miss Saigon, and Rent. Prior to the Nashville years, Chase was also a star of the short-lived but beloved Smash (which, coincidentally, also starred Borle).
Directed by Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten! tells the story of the accidental invention of the musical by two brothers who are tired of living in Shakespeare’s shadow. The show features music by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick and a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell; it currently runs at Broadway’s St. James Theatre.