Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
Spamilton: An American Parody
Those thus honored (and in no particular order) include Guys and Dolls, Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, The Music Man, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter, The Lion King, The King and I, Elton John, Gypsy, Man of La Mancha, Cher, Cinderella, The Academy Awards, Camelot, Mary Poppins, Bernadette Peters, Kinky Boots, Wicked, The Walt Disney Studios, The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Les Misérables, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Company, Miss Saigon, Stephen Sondheim, Rent, Liza Minnelli, Hello, Dolly!, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," Mickey Mouse, In the Heights, Aladdin, Stephen Spielberg, West Side Story, Chicago, Marie Antoinette, Annie, Barbra Streisand, La La Land, Yentl, Lady Gaga and, of course, Hamilton itself. I am sure that I missed a few in the rapid-fire delivery of this really fast-paced and funny show.
Spamilton was created, written and directed by Gerard Alessandrini, who also conceived and wrote the Forbidden Broadway series.
This show is actually about Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music, lyrics, and book for the smash Broadway hit Hamilton, and his revolution to save Broadway from the saccharin-infused fate it has fallen into. The parody uses the same formula of hip-hop, pop, R&B, soul, and traditional style showtunes, but goes a step further by adding countless references to shows both good and bad (by their reckoning)familiar Forbidden Broadway territory.
The cast consists of Ani Djirdjirian (Leading Ladies), Adrian Lopez (Lin-Manuel), Dominic Pecikonis (Daveed Diggs and others), Datus Puryear (Aaron Burr and Leslie Odom Jr.), Marissa Hecker (Swing), Brandon Kinley (King George III and Swing), and Chuckie Benson (Ben Franklin, George Washington and others), with costuming by Dustin Cross and choreography by Gerry McIntyre. A very special mention must go to musical director and pianist Curtis Reynolds, who does an absolutely amazing job with the musical requirements from the onstage grand piano.
For those who are avid theatergoers and would like to put their knowledge to the test, this is an excellent show for just thatbut be warned. If your ears blink for even a second you will probably miss one or more of the veiled references or outright bashing of all things Broadway. The Hanna Theatre at Playhouse Square is the perfect venue for this show, with its intimate seating and closeness to the action.
Spamilton has won the Off Broadway Alliance Best Unique Theatrical Experience award, the Outer Critics Circle Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical award, and the 2017 MAC Show of the Year award, and is deserving of such. Do you need to have an extensive knowledge of all things Broadway? Absolutely not. There is enough naughtiness and mayhem even if you do not understand all of the rap lyrics. Will you be able to catch each and every small nuance of reference sprinkled throughout the show? Probably not, and that is the fun of the show. It is like reading a book by fanning the pages. It will most probably be the fastest 63 minutes you have ever experienced in the theater.
Spamilton: An American Parody, through January 6, 2019, at the Hanna Theatre, Playhouse Square, 2067 E 14th St., Cleveland OH. Show times are Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. tickets are available online at www.playhousesquare.org, by phone at 216-241-6000 or by stopping by the Playhouse Square box office in the outer lobby of the State Theatre. For more information on the tour, visit spamilton.com.