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A CurtainUp Review
No hit musical, not even the fast flops have escaped Alessandrini's sharp assessment. Known for his unbridled jibbing and merciless perspective, his songs and skits keep fans and followers in stitches. He could be said to have picked up the mantle left by the Shubert brothers with their Passing Show reviews that annually lampooned the musicals of the preceding year and were a Broadway staple from 1912 to 1924.
It was inevitable that Alessandrini would find the rap rage that has taken over the spotlight on Broadway with the mega hit Hamilton too intriguing and delectable to ignore. Therefore, in the true spirit of generosity and with his guarded regard for the achievement of Hamilton's creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alessandrini has created a 75 minute revue that purports to show us the genesis of Hamilton through a fictionalized history of its making.
Spamilton careens along faster than a speeding bullet leaving much of Alessandrini's quick witted but also blistering interpretation of rap somewhere in the ether. I have to admit being able to catch only about half the lyrics and the text, but what I did catch was amusing. Don't be concerned if you haven't seen Hamilton, as neither had the old beggar woman (from Sweeney Todd) who comes up the aisle periodically singing "tickets for a mis'rable woman. I need Hamilton tickets badly." Yes, there are quickie skits like An American Psycho in Paris and The Lion King and I that come out of the blue but are welcome relief from the patter. What I really identified with was the old Jewish guy who falls asleep because the plot is too complicated, "What did I miss?," he asks, as I also asked myself.
All of the five terrific performers have great voices and talent to spare as they portray Hamilton's revolutionary characters with winking wickedness. There are digression as the 1776ers are also seen through the lens of such classic theater characters as Molly Brown and Annie and performers Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli — and even a very pregnant Audra McDonald. Through them we see Hamilton best achieve its comically altered state.
It would be very easy for me to refer more to the script and give you examples of why many in the audience seemed to eat up every line, but that would be a spoiler as the whole premise and presentation of the show is its rap-artee and the motor-mouthed performances by Juwan Crawley (what a falsetto!), Chris Anthony Giles, Nicholas Edwards, Dan Ropsales (as you know who) and Nora Schell plus special guest appearance by Forbidden Broadway alum Christine Pedi. The purposefully silly costumes by Dustin Cross and super fine piano accompaniment by Fred Barton added to the fun.
Spamilton doesn't outstay its welcome but it also makes its case early on and quickly. As such, there is the feeling that another regular edition of Forbidden Broadway with just a ten minute bashing of Hamilton would have been just fine.
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Spamilton written and directed by Gerard Alessandrini Directed by Gerard Alessandrini
Cast: Juwan Crawley , Chris Anthony Giles, Dan Rosales, Nora Schell, and special guest star Christine Pedi.
Choreography: Gerry McIntyre
Costume Design: Dustin Cross
Musical Direction: Fred Barton
Musical arrangements: Richard Danley
Production Manager: Brendan Fay
Sound Design: Matt Weber
Production Stage manager: Glenn Bassett
Running Time: 1 hour 15 minutes no intermission
Triad Theatre, 158 W. 72nd Street
Tickets: $59.00 and $84.90 plus a two drink minimum
Performances: Mon., Tues., Wed. at 7 pm; Thurs. at 9 pm; Fridays at 9 pm; Saturdays at 7 and 10 pm. Sundays at 3 pm
From 08/30/16. Opened 09/08/16. Closing 1/07/18, after numerous extensions
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 09/06/16
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