Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
Playhouse on Park and The Bushnell are jointly presenting the North American touring company of Spamilton: An American Parody, Gerard Alessandrini's insanely funny send-up of the phenomenon that is Hamilton. Spamilton is the silliest and most hilarious show in town. With just a small cast and an amazing pianist, this musical parody takes shots as much at Lin-Manuel Miranda and his writing process as it does at the blockbuster musical.
While a familiarity with Hamilton and its score is a definite benefit, Spamilton offers a great deal of fun for just about any theatergoer. This show is endlessly inventive and the company of actors work with a versatility and a velocity that is awe inspiring. If you can't afford to spend hundreds of dollars to get a seat to Hamilton, Spamilton, which is being presented onstage at Playhouse on Park, is definitely, and gleefully, the next best thing.
There is no song list in the program, but, just looking at the titles of the songs from the 2017 Off-Broadway cast album of Spamilton, one can see that the gifted Alessandrini (who also directs the show) has made a mad ruckus of the Broadway musical and even includes new material referencing Lin-Manuel Miranda's appearance in the sequel to Mary Poppins.
Of course, without a strong and spirited cast, this parody would never begin to work. Fortunately, every actor in Spamilton is up to the challenges of this spoof and they are, collectively, a hoot. Adrian Lopez looks amazingly like Lin-Manuel Miranda and is able to straddle the line between the serious and the insane. In such numbers as the opening, "Lin-Manuel as Hamilton" and "Ben Franklin, Sondheim & Lin-Manuel," Lopez is a real scream, as well as being a plausible candidate to take on the title role in the actual musical of Hamilton. He also sets the tone of poking fun while serving as a tribute to Hamilton, as well.
In perhaps the funniest performance in the show, Datus Puryear is a most fitting Aaron Burr and Leslie Odom, Jr. Opposite Lopez, Puryear's first number, "Aaron Burr, Sir, Nervous-er," is terrific and he only gets better throughout the show, culminating in a laugh-out-loud "The Film When It Happens" near the conclusion. Dominic Pecikonis is a great Daveed Diggs, and Chuckie Benson is just as good portraying Ben Franklin, George Washington, and other parts. The entire cast manage to stand out individually and as a group.
Speaking of standing out, Brandon Kinley brings down the house as King George III, in full royal attire (the perfect costume design is by Dustin Cross) and singing "Straight Is Back" to the tune of "You'll Be Back." This role is very showy in Hamilton and proves to be equally scene-stealing in Spamilton. Not to be forgotten, Paloma D'Auria is sensational playing all the women in the show, with a particularly hysterical "Look Around (The Schuyler Puppets)," with puppets on her hands, and she scores highly playing the various versions of the "Ticket Beggar Woman" throughout the evening.
At the onstage piano, musical director Curtis Reynolds deserves a round of applause all his own and he is spot-on from beginning to end. The appropriate set design is by Morgan Large, the lighting design by Michael Gilliam is ideal, and Gerry McIntyre's kinetic choreography is fabulous.
Everything comes together perfectly in Spamilton, with Alessandrini's wild imagination and genuine love of musical theatre apparent in every minute of this eighty-minute show.
Spamilton: An American Parody, through September 8, 2019, at Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Rd., West Hartford CT. For tickets, please visit www.playhouseonpark.org or call the box office at 860-523-5900. For more information on the tour, visit spamilton.com.