It takes some big cojones to take on the insular Broadway community, the creator of ‘Hamilton’ and theater royalty like Lloyd-Webber and Sondheim, but this gang of professionals from Forbidden Broadway reach new “heights” with hilarity, intelligence and belly laughs in a new pastiche.
Just a hip-hop, skip and jump off the uptown #2 or #3 subway from Times Square is playing the musical Spamilton. It’s only half the way up to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s heights, fame and ego and gives theatergoers the perfect reason to escape midtown and flee from Broadway.
Performing in an intimate space above a sign that reads “Turkish Restaurant” at Triad on 72nd Street is Gerard Alessandrini’s latest work of scathing brilliance — he creates, writes and directs with the smarts of the bespoke founding father, the delivery of Aaron Burr with a Tommy Gun and the biting humor of a sassy theater queen waiting in the wings. While most of us cannot afford or have the opportunity to get into ‘Hamilton’ on the expensive and tourist-driven Great White Way, this is most definitely the next best thing.
In particular, it’s a show for drama club geeks, those who loathe over-produced revivals or pyrotechnic spectacles and any thespian who suffered rejection. The two-drink minimum enhances the intoxicating world of Alessandrini and this very talented cast.
On one of the tiniest stages in the city, five gifted new comers emerge dressed in a variation of garb from the time of President Hamilton — tight white riding pants, calf-high boots and a hint of ruffle, lace, chest hair and sex appeal. The revolution begins after two strong promoters of ‘Hamilton,’ President and Michelle Obama, go to sleep listening to the Broadway soundtrack.
You don’t need to see the coveted box office hit to comprehend and enjoy all that Alessandrini brings to this stage. It not only spoofs the show but also itself along with Lin-Manuel Miranda in a Frier’s Club Roast kind of way and a single piano.
Dan Rosales conjures up Miranda perfectly with great control of his gift that purposely goes tinny and nasal while a folically-challenged ponytail hangs off the back of his head. The expressions of Chris Anthony Giles are dead-on as he riles up the troop and struts about as Leslie Odom, Jr. The handsome Nicholas Edwards sets the stage aflame with a rap and a ginormous afro that practically engulfs the stage — hilarious! Larry Owens holds his own as well and makes a side-splitting cameo as Little Orphan Annie. The golden pipes of Nora Schell take on not one but three rolls from ‘Hamilton’ by singing all female cast members with the help of hand puppets. The room exploded with laughter as guest divas intermittently played by Nora Schell and Dorothy Bishop tend to show up to keep the story moving along both inside and outside of the illusion. Schell makes a climactic entrance as Barbra Streisand with a slice of ‘Sweeny Todd’ and a bissell of ‘Yentle.’ Bishop follows up with equally impressive vocal battles as Bernadette Peters and a glimmer of Patti Lupone.
As if that weren’t enough, we come to a conclusion that they are all in on the joke. Including a phenomenal poking at Sondheim with a big schtick. There are so many words in this rapid fire show that my ears took a restroom break. Alessandrini notes in the PLAYKILL a special thanks to Lynn-Manuel Miranda for letting them use his material for parody and comical purposes.
On Broadway, King George of England sends a threatening if not ominous message to the U.S. In ‘Spamilton’ we get a message from a Queen. The pianist (Fred Barton) get’s up from his keyboard while it continues to play and he dons a royal cloak and crown and melodically bemoans about how gay shows like ‘Kinky Boots’ are closing because “Straight is Back” on Broadway. Uproarious!
Alessandrini knows the ins, outs, ups and downs of everything Broadway as well as the backstage gossip. Allegedly many celebs and divas have succumb to the Lin-Manuel flu and frenzy — they apparently stalk him. He has Bishop return at the end of the show as Liza Minnelli who begs and belts out a ditty on being in the movie version of Hamilton.
Apparently I am not the only one who enjoyed this occasion. The show has been extended thru February.
An American Parody
158 W 72nd St
Photos by Carol Rosegg, PK Greenfield and John Whitley.