BWW Review: SPAMILTON at Straz Center For The Performing Arts
Seven Performers enter, a Pianist is introduced. Set to the backdrop of the history of the Great White Way from past to present, and set to a gut punching-hilarious score based off of one of the greatest musicals to date Spamilton took off full speed ahead. From hilarious lyrics devised by the great minds behind Forbidden Broadway, and including a Lin-Manuel look a-like the audience experienced 90 minutes of unadulterated laughter, song, and dance.
Imagine if you will the lengths it takes to write a Broadway Musical. What would inspire someone to devise such and undertaking. How about taking some time to look into the History of our great country, and in this instance the Director's Notes, where in part it states, "When Jacqueline Kennedy revealed to the press that she and her husband JFK liked to listen to the Original Broadway Cast Album of Camelot, every night before they fell asleep, she forever dubbed the JFK Presidency the Camelot Years. Barack and Michelle Obama, likewise, championed their favorite musical: Hamilton."
Speaking of Michelle and Barack, how about the time in show in which two actors dressed as Michelle and Barack sang one of the opening numbers next to an Air Mattress dressed with the Seal of the President. Even going to lengths as to put on a recording LP of Hamilton on a record player, with that the audience was immersed in the first number of the night Lin-Manuel as Hamilton. The audience was busting at the seams before the number even ended.
The history of The Great White Way began after Adrian Lopez's Lin-Manuel and cast spoofed My Shot, by singing I'm Not Gonna Let Broadway Rot! The Choreography by Gerry McIntyre was fluid and everyone was so in time with one another it had me second guessing if I was watching a spoof or an actual performance of Hamilton. Combining the works of Thriller and Single Ladies, allowed the audience to be swept away by these unforgettable renditions, if there was one thing to put a ring on it was the Choreography and the Cast and Crew alike should be commended on all accounts.
Ani Djirdjirian as the Leading Ladies was hilarious in the rendition of The Schuyler Sisters. With a puppet on each hand and vocally singing all of the parts, Ani had the audience in stitches, her comedic timing and facial expressions were a joy to watch and I kept wanting more. So begins the spoofs of other shows, and this cast had several. Spoofing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion King, and Avenue Q combined with The Cher Show. Lin-Manuel was truly creating a "New Broadway" and was doing so in an innovative way. Suddenly a rewind sequence was seen and a Ken Ludwig-esque curtain call seemed to happen, except suddenly in front of us stood an actor's version of Bernadette Peters in Into the Woods. The other cast members Brandon Kinley as King George III, Dominic Pecikonis as Daveed Diggs, Chuckie Benson as Ben Franklin, and Datus Puryear as Aaron Burr made every moment memorable in this truly unforgettable evening.
Datus Puryear commanded the stage as Aaron Burr and it made me reminisce of the time I witnessed the great Nik Walker tackle the very challenging role in the tour of Hamilton. Brandon Kinley's King George III was hilarious in his spoof on the Hamilton favorite You'll be Back. In the number aptly dubbed, Straight is Back including a nod to Kinky Boots was a hilarious number and had me laughing to the very end. Probably one of the most influential and memorable portrayals of the evening was that of Dominic Pecikonis's Daveed Diggs. From the hair to the personality this guy was truly the one to watch and a huge standout.
In all of 90 minutes this stellar cast spoofed a ton of shows. From Wicked, Les Miserables, Company, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Mary Poppins, In the Heights, Book of Mormon, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, to Phantom of the Opera, Aladdin, Cats, and even West Side Story, just to name a few. Including stellar choreography, beautiful voices and a few special characters, Liza Minnelli and even Barbara Streisand there was fun to be had by everyone. I do know one thing, Lin-Manuel might as well be considered "Broadway's Yoda," and if they ever make a film about his life, "I wanna be in the FILM when it happens."
PHOTO CREDIT: THE STRAZ CENTER