BWW Reviews: A Must-See SPAMILTON

BWW Reviews: A Must-See SPAMILTON

Trust me on this: You'll wanna be in the room with the laughter.

Gerard Alessandrini's SPAMILTON, doesn't just satirize the hit musical HAMILTON and its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, it brilliantly mocks and celebrates the business we call show. It's easily Alessandrini's best work in years -which is saying a lot. With his Forbidden Broadway series, Alessandrini has proven time and again that he is the reigning king of Broadway parody.

He finds the perfect vehicle to examine the insane levels of the popularity of Miranda's show in the song "In the Hype," a parody of the title song from Miranda's first hit, IN THE HEIGHTS.

SPAMILTON is a finely crafted love letter and spoof to all things HAMILTON. It showcases the vocal and comedic talents of a cast of Chicago actors (Forbidden Broadway regular Christine Pedi is the lone non-Chicago actor in the cast, but she is only appearing through this week).

As Miranda/Hamilton, In the parody of "My Shot," Yando Lopez captures the manic energy, intelligence and ego of Miranda with the lyric "Hey, yo!, I'm just like the Beaver/A young overachiever/And I love being a hot, big shot." His Miranda is trying to save Broadway from itself by introducing a new musical lexicon to the genre.

His foil is ERIC ANDREw Lewis as Leslie Odom Jr./Burr. His character prefers less rap and more lyric and urges Miranda to "be terser in your verse, sir/You're no Johnny Mercer." Lewis' vocal work on "I Wanna Be In the Film When It Happens" -a song which theorizes how Hollywood will screw up the inevitable film version of the musical-- rivals Odom Jr's performance in "The Room Where It Happens."

Michelle Lauto portrays all three Schuyler Sisters as well as Beyonce and Gloria Estafan (both of whom badger Miranda to record with them). Star-turn is perhaps too over-used, but it certainly applies to Ms. Lauto's performance here. She earns the right to drop the mic when she wraps her lips around a spoof of Sondheim's "Another Hundred People" like a champ ("another hundred syllables..." literally come out of her mouth in one breath). She deserves to be a household name (to the extent that Chicago actors can be household names).

In "What'd You Miss," Donterrio Johnson channels Tony Award-winning actor David Diggs as Jefferson in a song that lampoons the text-rich lyrics and break-neck speed at which events happen in HAMILTON, often to the confusion of the audience.

David Robbins also turns in a winning performance as Stephen Sondheim. In this parody, Sondheim is equal parts Ben Franklin and Yoda. And did I mention his powerful falsetto? Still, it is his appearance at the end of the show as one of the most iconic Broadway characters that you will probably leave the theater talking about (I won't spoil the joke here).

Even the pianist Adam LaSalle gets in on the act with the parody of "You'll Be Back," in which a "queen" laments over the heteronormative state of the Broadway musical.

Beneath all the snark, there remains a love of the musical theater genre, though. One of the show's final songs (a parody of "The Story of Tonight") urges us to "raise a glass to the best of us/encouraging the rest of us/search for your glory wrong or right/write your own musical tonight." Delivered straight-faced by the cast as a sort of solemn prayer/oath, it is surprisingly heartfelt and emotional.

SPAMILTON runs through May 28 at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted. Tickets $59-$99. 312.988.9000. spamilton.com


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From This Author Misha Davenport

Misha Davenport Misha Davenport is the editor of Broadway World Chicago. A Chicago-based freelance writer, blogger, critic and singer. He studied playwriting at Michigan State University under (read more...)

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