No one parodies the Great White Way like Gerard Alessandrini. For 35 years, he's made audiences sidesplittingly laugh with his Forbidden Broadway series where, through song, he's shattered the idols of Broadway like Ethel Merman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Mary Martin. In Spamilton, Alessandrini tightens his target to assassinate the biggest musical sensation of the 21st century, Hamilton.
Twisting the Pulitzer Prize winner's original plot, Spamilton follows Lin-Manuel Miranda as he fights to revolutionize Broadway from a string of duds. The character Leslie Odom Jr. (who played Aaron Burr in the original Hamilton cast) warns Lin-Manuel to stop forcing rap music on Broadway. His mentor, Stephen Sondheim (dressed as Benjamin Franklin), cautions that a show can't succeed without melodies. Ignoring the naysayers, Lin-Manuel becomes a megastar, the source of a social media and advertising blitzkrieg, and an egomaniac. Now that his quirky show is a runaway hit, the actors panic that despite their good work on Broadway, they may not be "in the film when it happens."
Spamilton doesn't just go after Hamilton; it skewers all of Broadway. Alessandrini borrows the melodies from both Hamilton and other songs from the Broadway hit parade and inserts sharp lyrics, ribbing the classics — with love, of course. "Lin-Manuel's Quest," to the tune of "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha, tracks the author's desperation to rehabilitate Broadway. King George's lament becomes "Straight Is Back," claiming the gay characters are no longer the leads in musicals as they had been in Kinky Boots and La Cage aux Folles, but villains and fodder. "What Did You Miss?" pokes fun at how confusing Hamilton lyrics and plotlines can be for anyone who's not a Rhodes Scholar. One actress and two hand puppets enact the Schuyler Sisters' song and three beggar women plead for Hamilton tickets à la Sweeney Todd. The insanity is in high gear and nothing is sacred.
The game cast (Glenn Bassett, Susanne Blakeslee, Dedrick A. Bonner, John Devereaux, Wilkie Ferguson III, and William Cooper Howell) are all perfect mimics. They imitate the looks, sounds, and mannerisms of the original Hamilton actors as well as such recognizable divas as Liza Minnelli, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, and Barbra Streisand.
Director Alessandrini keeps firing the jokes at the audience with the speed of a tommy gun. Choreographer Gerry McIntyre reinvents Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler's Tony Award-winning moves while also recreating classic dance motifs of masters like Jerome Robbins. Dustin Cross's costumes complete the illusion by overstating some iconic clothing from Daveed Diggs's hair to Liza Minnelli's sparkly red dress and Audra McDonald's flapper frock from Shuffle Along.
Ultra-silly yet pristinely polished, Spamilton will delight any Broadway fan seeking a night of talent and irreverence at the expense of our theater gods.
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