“Spamilton” Delights Broadway Fanatics at Proctors
“Hamilton” is so extraordinarily powerful and influential that it gets its own “Forbidden Broadway” satire, devoted if not exclusively to itself, everything revolves around Lin. When “Spamilton” opened in New York it benefitted hugely by its proximity to “Hamilton” and extended its run many times and even opened road companies in Chicago, Los Angeles and the Menier Chocolate Factory in London. People are so hungry to get into the room where it happens that they will settle for a satire that pokes fun at their object of desire.
Hamilfans will be greatly rewarded with the very talented cast and piano accompaniment of Musical Director Matthew Hougland at “Spamilton.” There must be a dozen song parodies of songs from “Hamilton” and they sound great and the cast has a great time taking on these now iconic songs which have now somehow morphed into “What Did You Miss,” “In the Hype” and “The Film When It Happens.” The choreography of Gerry McIntyre and simple set and costume design by Morgan Large and Dustin Cross will evoke the famous counterpart wittily.
Adrian Lopez plays Lin Manuel Miranda as Hamilton and is a lot of fun to watch as the “hip-hop, opera scholar.” Miranda comes in for the most ripping here and perhaps that’s appropriate as he has risen the highest with the show but he is taken to task for his thin voice, his post-Hamilton Disney projects (“Moana” & “Mary Poppins Returns”) and even this show’s reason for being-the acclaim he was accorded for it with a very funny “In the Hype.”
Jared Alexander plays Daveed Diggs who has a great number with “The Fresh Prince of Big Hair” referencing his move to sit-coms with “Blackish.” Rendell DeBose is fantastic as Ben Franklin in an extended Sondheim parody, Datus Puryear is an exceptionally strong presence as Aaron Burr “Be terser in your verser, You’re no Johnny Mercer,” Brandon Kinley rules as King George III and perhaps best of all is Paloma D’Auria, the only woman in the cast. She gets the privilege of playing all three Schuyler sisters (with the help of a couple of hand puppets) plus the outsize personalities of Bernadette Peters, Barbra Streisand and Idina Menzel. She is terrific, singing beautifully and pulling faces with the most minimal of effort and provoking gales of laughter.
As you can see, the show takes on not just “Hamilton” but the entire Broadway canon. There must have been over 100 shows name checked or even parodied in part. Gerard Alessandrini has been doing this for 37 years with his “Forbidden Broadway” shows and he can still nail the greatest targets like Sondheim, “Another 100 syllables just got off of the train.” He has some great Broadway show mash-ups, a take-down of “Book of Mormon” as the last sensation that owned Broadway and I especially appreciated a name check of Zach de la Rocha followed quickly by Liza’s entrance. Only at an Alessandrini show can you get that.
As a reviewer, I’m tasked to deal with what’s presented on stage and not imagine what might have been but this evening is presented as a dream from the Obama’s bedroom and I have to ask, does anyone think this is what the Obama’s are dreaming? “Hamilton” is a political show. It’s creation, reception and subject matter are political. Shouldn’t a satire on that show do the same or even go further?
George Kaufman famously said “Satire is what closes on Saturday night.” Broadway is always ripe for making fun of and there’s “Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation” playing in NYC right now. “Spamilton,” in perhaps the cruelest dig of all, treats “Hamilton” as one of the biggest Broadway blockbusters and nothing more. Maybe I’m smarting because that’s all it was, after all.