The winter of our discontent is upon us. It follows swiftly on the tail of the worst year on record -- or at least the past decade -- with its nasty politics, worrisome world events and over-the-top number of notable deaths.
But now, thankfully, just when we need it most, "Something Rotten!" is headed our way, bringing jovial fun, joyous laughter and a heaping dose of the magic that happens when an all-new Broadway musical comes to town.
From a team responsible for the likes of "Aladdin," "The Book of Mormon," "Rent," "Avenue Q" and "In the Heights," "Something Rotten" launches its national tour at the Boston Opera House from Jan. 17 to Jan. 29.
The hilarious new musical comedy by brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, two playwrights stuck in the shadow of Renaissance rock star Will Shakespeare.
When a soothsayer foretells that the next big thing in theater involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, the Bottom brothers set out to write the world's first musical.
"It's a love letter to the Broadway musical, and people love it," said Josh Grisetti, who plays the Bottom brother named Nigel.
He chatted recently from backstage of the St. James Theatre in New York, where he has been playing Nigel on Broadway.
Nigel, he continued, is "the voice of reason," as opposed to brother Nick, who gets caught up in the stiff competition with Shakespeare.
The musical is a Shakespearean mashup, beginning with the brothers taking their last name from Bottom, a beloved comic character in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and the title, which comes directly from the quote "something is rotten in the state of Denmark" from Hamlet.
And that's just the start. They're desperate to write a hit in Elizabethan London, where Shakespeare is the star-like god of the stage, though he's lately given to cribbing plots.
Nick's wife, Bea (think Beatrice in "Much Ado About Nothing"), a can-do gal in the style of Shakespearean heroines who cross-dresses to get things done, tries to help. Nigel, meanwhile, falls for a pretty Puritan named Portia, whose daddy disapproves.
Unreliable soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus, nephew of the Nostradamus, looks into the future and tells Nick that Shakespeare's next big hit will be -- ta-da! -- a musical titled "Omelette."
A success since it opened on Broadway in April 2015, "Something Rotten" is laced throughout with humor for Shakespeare aficionados and musical-theater geeks.
But, says co-creator O'Farrell, a British comedy writer, "If it works as a musical for people who don't know musicals or Shakespeare, then I'm happy. It's about show business and putting on a show -- and doing it in Tudor times gives it an extra spin."
Grisetti is thrilled to be part of an all-new show.
"It's pretty unusual these days to find an all-new show that isn't based on a Disney movie," he said.
He's also pleased that the tour launches in Boston, where he studied musical theater at Boston Conservatory of Music and worked with Neil Donohoe of Lowell, a longtime Boston Conservatory faculty member and now dean of theater there.
"I was there in the early 2000s and loved being at one of the top five schools in the country for musical theater," he said.
Grisetti, who will teach a master class or two while he's here, relishes sharing what he has learned about show business with today's students.
"I'm still young, but I've already done two big things I've wanted to do," he said. "The first was originating a role (in 'It Shoulda Been You'), and the second is to be in a big, fun, glitzy, musical comedy," he said.
And with Something Rotten, he has added another "man in tights" role to his résumé.
"I've done 'Camelot' and 'Spamalot' and 'Robin Hood, Men in Tights' -- all the Renaissance roles. I do the tight thing pretty well and I love it," he concluded.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Something Rotten!
Where: Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston
When: January 17-29
Tickets: Start at $44 and are available at the box office, Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787 or at www.BroadwayInBoston.com.