Hamilton refreshed America’s historical memories with a founding father’s story. Spamilton both celebrates and sticks its tongue at famous Broadway performances and honoring Lin Manuel Miranda’s accomplishments while poking fun at his rise to the top of the musical theatre scene.
If you haven’t seen Hamilton, the pièce de résistance of Miranda’s career that shot him into starlight while celebrating unsung heroes of the American resistance, don’t worry.
Spamilton isn’t married to historical accuracy, serious drama or Alexander Hamilton’s story. Instead, it’s a loving satire written by Gerard Alessandrini, the comedy mastermind behind “Forbidden Broadway.”
As one would expect from a music lover who’s been satirizing famous performances for at least three decades, Alessandrini’s script for Spamilton is fantastic. It’s elevated by a cast of phenomenally talented actors, which mainly consists of leading performers Chuckie Benson, Paloma D’Auria, Datus Puryear, Dominic Pecikonis, and Adrian Lopez.
Fans of the soundtrack will perk up as their ears recognize familiar tunes, but in Spamilton they’re given a silly twist. That’s not to dismiss Spamilton as a simple musical farce, however — the cast and crew give their all, ensuring that it’s a spectacle well worth your time.
As always, the Phoenix Theatre brings its A-game with Spamilton, but this time they’ve brought an extra dose of sass to the stage, with a bucket of Broadway references and a truckload of talent through breakneck raps, clever dances and voices that both blow you away with their skills while making you laugh at the lyrics they’re belting from the stage.
Paloma D’Auria deserves special praise, as she single-handedly plays all the female characters of the play.
During Spamilton’s take on “The Schuyler Sisters,” she whips out two puppets and sings as the three characters. Her voice soars in operatic heights, lowers to be nasally in different songs, bends to impersonate famous actresses like Bernadette Peters, and speeds up as she has a rap battle to the tune of Lin Manual Miranda’s “Satisfied.” She’s as versatile as the humor in the play and earns every clap.
It’s well-deserved, as she performs her heart out in Spamilton. She’s not the only one, as every member of Spamilton brings their all, elevating the script from a hilarious romp to a truly remarkable and memorable performance.
Adrian Lopez sounds exactly like Lin-Manuel Miranda–and from my seat, which was far up, he looks just like him as well. Datus Puryear was great as both Aaron Burr and Leslie Odom Jr.
One of the biggest gems of the play is Curtis Reynolds’ performance as King George III.
Throughout the first half of the play, he’s first an unassuming figure in the corner of the stage, playing the piano with immeasurable skill that keeps the play lively and free-flowing. Then, he stands up, is given a crown and cape, and belts out one of the funniest songs in the play: “Straight Is Back,” in which he laments about how the campy, coy gayness of old is now shunned on the stage. His performance is lively, hilarious and bursting with so much skill and flamboyant bombasity that it would make Jonathan Groff, who played King George III in Hamilton, proud.
Another great aspect that deserves a shout-out is its musical, thanks to music supervision by Fred Barton and musical arrangements from Fred Barton.
Every aspect of director Alessanddrini’s performance is perfectly choreographed, and musical arrangers Fred Barton and Richard Danley makes sure the music flows well to match.
One moment that was particularly triumphant was Reynolds transformation from piano player to King George: Lopez took over the piano, played away during the song, and then Reynolds returns with a triumphant glissando. It’s a seamless transition: The music didn’t miss a single beat, and the play continued to its next hilarious scene.
Other technical aspects were flawless as well, from the costumes by Dustin Cross and choreography by Gerry McIntyre, who deserves a round of applause for many of the hilarious dance moves, like one small Beyonce sequence that had the audience shouting with laughter.
Contact the reporter at [email protected].
Correction: A previous version of this review cited Brandon Kinley as King George III and Ani Djirdjirian as the leading ladies. While Kinley does play King George III in regular performances, Curtis Reynolds was in fact the performer on the day the Downtown Devil saw the reviewed performance of Spamilton. Paloma D’Auria is the actress who plays the leading ladies.