Raise A Glass to Broadway, 2 Critiques: “Spamilton”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
Created, written and directed by Gerard Alessandrini
Musical direction by Curtis Reynolds
Choreography by Gerry McIntyre 

Feb. 12 – April 7, 2019
South End
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Trigger warning: potentially offensive racial humor, disrepecting Sondheim

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Holy crap, go see Spamilton. Seriously, I mean it this time: go see Spamilton. Parody musicals aren’t for everyone but almost everyone loved Hamilton and Spamilton takes all of the great parts of Hamilton and makes them funny on purpose. Spamilton is a good laugh – even for the people who hate Hamilton.

Spamilton is to Hamilton what Spamelot is to Camelot. That’s the first thing we’re taught when the music starts and the cast starts rapping. This musical adapts the pop culture phenomenon to accommodate Lin Manuel Miranda’s origin story. Seven actors tell Miranda’s journey to Broadway through the now famous tunes.

Chills. Spamilton was so good last night that there were chills down my back… A funny feeling given that Adrian Lopez as Lin-Manuel was telling us that he wasn’t going to let “Broadway rot.” The ensemble, individually and together, is so tight that I believed him. Lopez, Chuckie Benson, Ani Djirdjirian, Brandon Kinley, Dominic Pecikonis, and Datus Puryear work so well together at such a fast pace that the audience had no choice but to get caught up in the ruckus.

The dancing is simple but sharply executed. The vocals are across the board gorgeous. Djirdjirian has a crystal clear pop belt that mixes superbly. Her legit voice (that we only get to hear occasionally) is gorgeous. She pulls quadruple duty as all of the female characters plus some extra-special Broadway royalty cameos.  

Brandon Kinley plays King George III. His solo number, “Straight is Back” is funny as Hell. It’s a show-stopper that delivers the all important reminder that the gay community has carried musical theatre on our butch and feminine shoulders. “Broadway will be bitter when glitz is gone” but we’re not going anywhere. No need to worry.

Spamilton is heavily laden with scalding hot burns at Broadway’s expense. These digs punch up. Fun is poked because Broadway, despite its many, many tresspasses, is beloved by all and sundry. If you need a cathartic, hearty laugh (and honestly who doesn’t these days?), Spamilton is worthy of your attentions.

Company of “Spamilton: An American Parody” Photo: Roger Mastroianni

Critique by Noelani Kamelamela

(Boston, MA) I’m a person of color and I think Hamilton: An American Musical is okay. I’d know the music from In The Heights if someone were to hum a bar.  In brief, I think Lin-Manuel Miranda is an okay guy, but I’m not a fan of his music. I enjoy that he is out there, being a person of color and claiming his ancestry instead of hiding it as entertainers before him have done for profit.  He seems talented, but Hamilton is not my thing. More than once, I’ve had friends confused that I’m not completely agog at Hamilton, though I am slightly redeemed by my familiarity with The Mixtape. I may appreciate Alexander Hamilton’s place in history, but I don’t idolize him.  

Spamilton is the kind of parody that I really enjoy, in part because I don’t consider Hamilton to be sacred.  Fans of Forbidden Broadway, Gerald Alessandrini’s Broadway parody revue of the past four decades, may be familiar with Alessandrini’s skill at creating a show out of the thinnest of premises and connected loosely by familiar music, characters and dances. Alessandrini has transformed Hamilton into a send-up of Broadway, politics and even Hollywood in a mostly inoffensive way.  

Both Hamilton and Spamilton require an energetic and talented cast. However, there is a ton of sarcasm and dedication to impressions that Spamilton demands whereas Hamilton definitely invites each actor to really put their own twist on their performance.  As someone who is familiar with revolutionary history but definitely more comfortable with current pop culture, Spamilton is infinitely more memorable and can exist in the timeless moments that musicals trade in without falling into the trap of having to waste time on exposition.  At a precise 80 minute run-time and a much lower ticket price, Spamilton is a show that one can take a date to and still have the time and money to spend on actually getting to know your date.

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