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Musical-satire mastermind Gerard Alessandrini’s latest follows its source material into an open Chicago run.
Perhaps inevitably, expert Broadway parodist Gerard Alessandrini has applied his Forbidden Broadway treatment to the Hamilton juggernaut, with often incisive results. Unlike Hamilton prime, which Alessandrini’s Spamilton now follows into an open Chicago run, the spoof has cast all of its actors locally. And lo and behold, the likes of Eric Andrew Lewis, Donterrio Johnson and Michelle Lauto live up to the demands of dense, Lin-Manuel Miranda–style lyrics. (On opening night, Spamilton’s actors did so with much of Hamilton’s Chicago cast in the house, who seemed duly appreciative and impressed.)
Spamilton puts Miranda himself (as embodied by the talented young actor Yando Lopez) at the center of a Hamilton-esque narrative about an up-and-comer determined to save Broadway with his writing. The parody is often spot-on in terms of Miranda’s musical idiom and his show’s highly identifiable aesthetic, and gets in some juicy digs at Miranda’s media ubiquity and publications’ oversaturated, click-hungry coverage of the Hamilton phenomenon (which, uh, guilty?).
Along the way, Alessandrini sneaks in some of his favorite subjects from outside the Hamilton universe, with cameos by his takes on Liza Minnelli and Stephen Sondheim and some gags at the expense of other recent Broadway shows; I’m not sure how well Shuffle Along references will land in Chicago, but then Forbidden Broadway’s target audience tends to be self-selecting superfans. Alessandrini also trots out some of his longtime hobby horses, and whether or not Disney and overproduced British megashows are still the biggest threats to quality musical theater is debatable—then again, Miss Saigon is back… Regardless, Spamilton is a goofy, mostly affectionate treat for Hamilton’s hyperdevoted fans and a worthy showcase for its crack Chicago cast, not to mention an easier ticket to score than its cousin downtown.
Royal George Theatre. Created by Gerard Alessandrini. With Donterrio Johnson, Michelle Lauto, Eric Andrew Lewis, Yando Lopez, David Robbins. Running time: 1hr 25mins; no intermission.