‘Spamilton’ brilliantly chaffs composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and his groundbreaking musical
February 21, 2019
When “Hamilton: An American Musical,” the hip-hop musical created by and originally starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, first premiered in 2015, it quickly gained a throng of adorning fans and was labeled as a show that would change Broadway forever. Despite the large amount of praise “Hamilton” has received, “Spamilton: An American Parody” hilariously pokes fun at the award-winning musical and its creator.
’s 80 minute production of “Spamilton” is jam packed with over-the-top songs and dances that aim to chaff “Hamilton.” Gerard Alessandrini, the founder of the off-Broadway musical parody venue “Forbidden Broadway” and the playwright behind “Spamilton,” has the audience constantly chuckling about Miranda’s journey to reinvent theater.
“Spamilton” is a revue, meaning it does not follow a structured plot or storyline. Instead, the one act show feels more like a series of skits that transition smoothly. The songs are about the notoriously high priced tickets, the possibility of a Disney film adaptation and the up-tempo rap songs “Hamilton” is known for.
The opening number was a spoof on the Broadway hit’s iconic opener “Alexander Hamilton.” Instead of the famous line “There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait,” the Spamilton cast sings the lyrics, “There’s a million rhymes I haven’t done, but just you wait,” poking fun at Miranda’s speedy theatrical rapping.
Tracks from the original musical were altered for comedic effect. For instance, “You’ll Be Back” was transformed into “Straight is Back.” The company also incorporated songs from other Broadway musicals such as “Into the Woods,” “Sunday in the Park With George” and “The Book of Mormon” and connected them back to Miranda. It was surprising and impressive how they were able to put a Hamilton twist on the other famous showtunes they referenced.
Adrian Lopez, who starred as the role of Lin-Manuel Miranda, mastered Miranda’s mannerisms and personality. From pulling out his iPhone to send tweets of admiration to composer Stephen Sondheim, to his wide-eyed facial expressions and animated body language, Lopez captured Miranda’s most iconic traits.
Along with Lopez, each of the actors in the seven member cast succeeded in imitating the “Hamilton” cast. Although this production only had a handful of performers, they mimicked the big dance routines by ending each song in a dramatic group pose. They also played multiple characters and impersonated other theater icons, such as Bette Midler and Liza Minnelli.
Whether it was a new character being introduced or a new dance number beginning, the audience had to pay close attention to the show at all times because something interesting was always happening on stage. It was impressive to see the actors change characters and move through fast-paced songs seemingly without pausing for a breath, because the farse incorporated continuous jokes and other laughable bits.
Unlike in Manhattan, this parody appeared to be more of a low budget, off-brand version of “Hamilton.” Although the costumes looked similar to the revolutionary-era inspired wardrobe from the Broadway production, the gold stars sewn on the back pockets of the actor’s white pants and dazzling gold buttons on their shiny vests made the spoof’s costume design much more gaudy.
Also unlike the original, the stagnant set consisted of a tall sign with the “Spamilton” logo that sat in the center. The actors changed clothes and scenes behind it, but nothing else around it moved. The props for the parody, which consisted of hand puppets to play the Schuyler sisters and plastic water squirt guns in lieu of pistols, were obviously cheap, but somehow that added yet another layer of comedy.
In both “Hamilton” and “Spamilton,” the actors’ diction gets fuzzy because the songs are so fast. In “Spamilton,” there were times when it was hard to hear the actor’s lines and therefore some of the humor may have been lost. However, “Spamilton” had lines asking how many syllables Miranda could squeeze into a few notes, joking about his songwriting style and difficulty in enunciating lyrics.
This musical is perfect for all die-hard “Hamilton” and musical theater fans, but it is not made to cater to an eclectic audience. The show is full of incredibly specific references that only Broadway lovers will understand. If someone does not know Sondheim from Lloyd Webber, it will be difficult to follow along.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the jokes were made in good spirit and remarkable creativity, thought and research went into creating this stellar show.
“Spamilton: An American Parody” will run at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts until April 7.