Home

The hip-hop Broadway in Chicago sensation Hamilton, which, has spawned a secondary market in pricey theater tickets, has also delivered a pair of spin-offs. Shamilton, an improv riff at the Apollo, and now, notably, Spamilton, a send up of the original musical about the founding fathers of the U.S. 

Is it funny if you haven’t seen the original? The short answer is yes – because following the opening sets based on Hamilton, the show quickly turns its sites on other long-time Broadway shows like Cats and Phantom of the Opera, warhorses like Camelot, and shows of more recent vintage like Wicked and Book of Mormon.

The creative force behind the show is Gerard Alessandrini, the originator of the 1982 "Forbidden Broadway," which was similar in format, and has been rewritten and updated more than a dozen times. It has played around the world, including Chicago - I’ve seen two different versions here.

For all practical purposes, Spamilton is the newest Forbidden Broadway, and on some levels it exceeds the earlier ones in appeal.

The key to the storyline is Broadway’s perpetual and desperate struggle to save itself, and to create a new vision of the big musical show. Show business has been mired in novelties like Book of Mormon and the puppet-based Avenue Q; overproduced extravaganza with no memorable songs, like Spiderman; or Sondheim light operetta that those outside the cognoscenti may find hard to sit through.

Alessandrini picks up this scent of desperation, and seizes on Broadway producers struggles with wickedly funny original song and dance numbers that sample or mash-up the originals. Clinging to revivals of Rogers & Hammerstein or Leonard Bernstein; turning over theaters to somewhat vapid Disney productions like Aladdin and Newsies, these producers become fodder for fun in Spamilton.

The show parodies this desperation with another extreme: combining previously successful shows.

A perfect example comes around 10 minutes in, as the Spamilton players switch gears and time periods to present The Lion King & I. Anna the English Governess in hoop skirts dons a Julie Traymor head set in a duet with a squawking animal character. Let’s say I chortled heartily.

The show runs at a mad-cap pace, and even if you don’t get all the references, it’s still funny. A scene of an axe wielding gentleman clad just in Fruit of the Looms is a send up of American Psycho (I think, after Googling). It was funny even though I didn’t know exactly what the reference was.

Wicked and Book of Mormon – once the pricey ‘it’ shows, now discounting tickets like any other production – get nailed pointedly, having yielded star status to Hamilton. Scenes are punctuated by a running gag: homeless ladies in rags begging for Hamilton tickets – understood to be based on true stories of famous  stars desperate for seating.

A Barbra Streisand impersonation finds the aging diving singing in signature reverb, advising that when Hamilton is filmed, she wants to play a role in “The Film When It  Happens.” Likewise, J-Lo and Gloria Estefan walk-on, each hoping to tap the mojo of Hamilton. Liza Minnelli appears, but runs the other direction - and asks that rap be banned on Broadway, so they can “bring back the tunes.”  

The show reveals broader awareness in a number, Straight is Back, which laments the loss of gay show tunes and glitter, as productions like Hamilton skew to more manly styles. 

You can get a taste of Spamilton from the original New York cast album, just released. But it pales compared to the experience of seeing this cast of amazing dancers and singers, and their great comedic timing: Donterrio Johnson, Michelle Lauto, Eric Andrew Lewis, Yando Lopez, David Robbins, and guest diva Christine Pedi (she's the Streisand character among others), with musical direction by Adam LaSalle.  

While Hamilton’s original star Lin-Manuel Miranda love “laughed my brains out!" when he saw the show, during last Sunday’s production the Chicago cast of Hamilton was in the audience – and they had a blast.

Gerry McIntyre did the choreography;  Dustin Cross gets Costume Design; , Fred Barton (Musical Director), and Richard Danley and Fred Barton (Musical Arrangements). "Spamilton" is produced in Chicago by John Freedson, David Zippel, Gerard Alessandrini, Margaret Cotter and Liberty Theatricals, in association with JAM Theatricals. Chuckie Benson and Arielle Richardson are the understudies the production.

"Spamilton" plays Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Royal George Theater.  www.spamilton.com

Published in Theatre in Review

The Neo-Futurists' Husband and Wife Team present the World Premiere of The?Unicorn?Hour? directed by Adrian Danzig

28 March 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

The Neo-Futurists are proud to present a world premiere created and performed by Leah Urzendowski* and Anthony Courser The? Unicorn?…

"Spamilton" Announces Open-Ended Run at Royal George Theatre

28 March 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Today, the producers of “Spamilton,” the critically acclaimed parody of “Hamilton,” will extend its Chicago production for an open-ended run…

Family Loyalties are Tested in By the Water

26 March 2017 in Theatre in Review

Devastation permeates the set and plot of the Northlight Theatre’s Midwest premiere of By the Water – a powerful and…

World Premiere! Hell in a Handbag Productions Presents LADY X – A MUSICAL

25 March 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to open its 15th season with the world premiere of LADY X –…

About Face Theatre Prepares to Blast Off at WONKA BALL: FORBIDDEN PLANET Friday, April 21st at Venue SIX10

25 March 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Get ready to blast off! About Face Theatre invites guests to the final frontier – space – for an out…

Rivendell to produce world premiere of Margaret Atwood novel in September

25 March 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (RTE), Chicago’s only Equity theatre dedicated to producing new work with women at the core, announces the…

Announcing the New 2017/2018 Season at Goodman Theatre

25 March 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

Artistic Director Robert Falls announces Goodman Theatre’s new 2017/2018 Season, which builds on the theater’s 40-year commitment to producing works…

Free Performance of Kita Y Fernanda Monday Night, March 27th, at Morton East's Historic Chodl Auditorium

24 March 2017 in Upcoming Theatre

16th Street Theatre is extending an open invitation this Monday night for a FREE performance of Tanya Saracho's Jeff-Nominated play,…

Review: Picnic at American Theater Company

24 March 2017 in Theatre in Review

It's not often you'll hear cool and the play 'Picnic' in the same sentence, but director Will Davis' new version…

A Comic Delight, Destiny of Desire Also Has Plenty of Smart and Sexy

22 March 2017 in Theatre in Review

Destiny of Desire begins with the actors breaking the fourth wall, walking among the audience, encouraging them to relax and…

Circus 1903 Brings the Kid Out in All of Us

22 March 2017 in Theatre in Review

After a 146-year run, Ringling Bros. Circus, is finally bringing down its curtain for what has been tabbed as “The…

International Voices Project Announces the 2017 Festival Takes Place at A New Venue, Instituto Cervantes, April 17 – May 18

22 March 2017 in In Concert

International Voices Project (IVP) is proud to announce a new venue for this year’s five week celebration of international plays.…

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

 
   Tickets Just a Click Away

Register

  BUZZ CENTER STAGE INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Latest Articles

Guests Online

We have 98 guests and no members online

Buzz Chicago on Facebook Buzz Chicago on Twitter