Advertising itself as the “second hottest ticket in town,” Spamilton, the musical parody of the broadway smash hit, Hamilton, has arrived, much like its bigger brother, in Chicago. The spoof, which predominantly parodies songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-award-winning musical, is penned by Gerard Alessandrini, known for his incisive and insightful satirical musical parody series, Forbidden Broadway. Opening to a packed and boisterous crowd, Alessandrini’s witty creation packed an impressive arsenal of humor into its 85-minute running time.
For fans of Hamilton who are willing to laugh at themselves and the hit show, Spamilton is a no-brainer. Devotees with an extensive knowledge of the production and its creator’s history will be justly rewarded in this mile-a-minute musical revue. There are even some Chicago-specific jokes–like a sly reference to Wayne Brady, currently playing Hamilton’s Aaron Burr–that are bound to appeal to the general public. For those less familiar with the source material, there are still many laughs to be had, especially if you have been following Broadway for the past 15 years.
In addition to Hamilton and its creator, Spamilton skewers everything from Liza Minnelli to Sweeney Todd, The Lion King, Annie and Wicked. A running joke about how hard it is to get tickets, combined with several reveals of the unlikely divas in need of a scalper, is particularly satisfying. Alessandrini cleverly focuses not only on the sensation that is Hamilton, he also hones in on the sensation of sensationalism, pointing out that New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley bestowed The Book of Mormon as the “best musical of the century” only six years ago. Surely, the musical not-so-subtly points out, that distinction was given prematurely.
The major reason that Spamilton works so well is its faith in its talented cast, who would be equally at home at the Private Bank Theatre as they are on the Royal George’s stage. Aside from their impressive comedic chops, the cast of Spamilton is vocally excellent. Michelle Lauto, in particular, shines as all three of the Schuyler sisters. However, to single her out feels wrong, seeing as the other members of the cast–which includes Yando Lopez as “Lin-Manuel as Hamilton,” a hysterical Donterrio Johnson, and the wry David Robbins–possess just as much vocal range and talent.
To be sure, Spamilton is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is fast-paced to the point that some jokes and references may not land on all audience members’ ears. If you are someone unfamiliar with Hamilton or other past Broadway juggernauts (and flops), you, too, may find yourself missing some of the humor of the show. That said, for the talent of its committed cast alone, Spamilton is worth the price of admission.
Spamilton continues at the Royal George Theatre in an open run. Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 5pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm and 5pm. Tickets are available by calling 312-988-9000 or at www.spamilton.com and cost $59-$99.