Monday, August 19, 2019

Review of "Spamilton"

Fans of the musical Hamilton as well as the long-running Off-Broadway series, Forbidden Broadway, will be amusingly satisfied with the national tour of Spamilton, playing at Playhouse on Park in West Hartford through September 8th.  The production is a mighty coup for the small, Equity theater, which is staging the show in conjunction with the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

Spamilton aims to skewer and lampoon its source material.  It is constructed as a series of loosely connected vignettes where Lin-Manuel Miranda (superbly portrayed by Adrian Lopez) wants to save Broadway.  He is aided by a multitude of characters from Hamilton and the actors that play the historical figures from the show.  Just to spice up the production Creator, Writer, and Director Gerard Alessandrini has included additional skits that send up Broadway musicals in general as well as some of his favorite Forbidden Broadway targets, which include Liza Minnelli, Disney musicals, and Stephen Sondheim. 

There is a light touch to the parodies.  The goal is to entertain, not be snarky.  The format works, for the most part, even though the quickly recited rapping in the Hamilton portions can be hard to understand.

A central question theater-goers might ask is What if?  What if I have not seen the mega-hit that Alessandrini is poking fun at?  While having seen the blockbuster would definitely enhance one’s enjoyment, it is not necessary in appreciating and savoring the production, which also includes references to dozens of iconic musicals such as The Music Man, Annie, Sweeney Todd, and Phantom of the Opera. 

The main reason the 80-minute show is successful is due to its exuberant cast.  These six performers run full throttle, singing, dancing, and undergoing numerous costume changes.  This talented ensemble makes you greatly appreciate the skill and dedication of professional actors.  Besides the aforementioned Adrian Lopez, the cast includes Chuckie Benson, who portrays Ben Franklin, George Washington and many others; Dominic Pecikonis, as the actor Daveed Diggs, among others; Datus Puryear as Aaron Burr and Leslie Odom, Jr.; Paloma D’Auria, who gives wicked impressions of Bernadette Peters, Liza, Barbara Streisand, and the women of Hamilton; and Brandon Kinley, who is only on stage for a few minutes as King George III. 

Director Gerard Alessandrini keeps the pacing quick, even if some of the jokes fall flat.  He fully utilizes the small Playhouse stage and adeptly integrates Dustin Cross’s Costume Designs into the flow of the musical.  Musical Director Curtis Reynolds is a wonder on the piano accompanying all the shenanigans on stage.

Spamilton, a perfect antidote for those end-of-summer blues.  At Playhouse on Park through September 8th.  For information, go to

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