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Menier Chocolate Factory

Spamilton
4.0Reviewer's Rating

So here we have Spamilton, the name being a combination of Hamilton and Spamalot, itself a play on the name of the musical Camelot… still with me? It’s written by Gerard Alessandrini, most famous for Forbidden Broadway (a constantly updated revue parodying whatever’s on Broadway at the time) and, to get the slight negatives out of the way up front, his first attempt to focus on a single show does feel a bit sketchy, lacking an overall structure. Also, there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll get a lot more out of this if you’ve seen Hamilton recently (or at least know the soundtrack backwards). In fact, a quick refresher course in musical theatre history might not be a bad idea.

 

The small town nobody who achieves success and fame against impossible odds is, of course, a stock musical character ‒ and if it worked with Alexander Hamilton, why not Lin-Manuel Miranda too? Enter Liam Tamne as Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton (still with me?) What follows are parodies of various Hamilton numbers ‒ “Say no to this” is now about Lin-Manuel turning down collaborations with divas hoping to piggyback on his sudden fame; “In the room when it happened” becomes “In the film when it happens”, as cast members lament their inevitable replacement by bankable Hollywood stars.

 

King George makes an appearance, this time to observe that gay Broadway musicals are just so over (though the joke was made better by the Neil Patrick Harris number “It’s not just for gays any more” at the Tonys a few years back). We also hear from Lin-Manuel’s hero Stephen Sondheim, from whom he seeks advice on how to get away with writing such relentlessly verbose lyrics.

 

Some have criticised this show for being too soft on its target ‒ Lin-Manuel himself is on record as loving it ‒ but then why shouldn’t it be? It’s 100% right in its description of how Hamilton broke the Broadway mould, how dated and saccharine so many other musicals now seem (I especially loved the moment when two Mormons rang imaginary doorbells, before announcing themselves as “last year’s hit” ‒ and of course the multi-decade Lloyd Webbers and Les Mis, long standing Forbidden Broadway targets, come in for some flak too).

 

The cast are fresh and energetic ‒ they have to be ‒ best of all being Tamne himself and Julie Yammanee, whose parody of Barbara Streisand (along with Sophie-Louise Dann’s of Liza) are worth the ticket price by themselves. But if you’re wondering “Liza who?”, this show probably isn’t for you.

  • Musical
  • By Gerard Alessandrini
  • Directed by Gerard Alessandrini
  • Cast includes: Marc Akinfolarin, Jason Denton, Eddie Elliott, Liam Tamne, Julie Yammanee, Sophie-Louise Dann, Damian Humbley
  • Menier Chocolate Factory
  • Until 8 September 2018
  • Time: 20:00 Tues-Sat; Sat & Sun 15:30

About The Author

Reviewer (UK)

Roger has written several plays, which have been performed as far afield as Warsaw, Prague, Pittsburgh and Buenos Aires. One of them, Guilty Secret, has been published by Oberon Modern Plays. He directed his own first play, Why Don’t You Just Sing Jazz?, on the last night of the Grimeborn Festival of Alternative Opera at the Arcola Theatre in 2009. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Two Sheds theatre company, for which he has produced and co-directed Torben Betts' Muswell Hill, Edward Bond's Black Mass and Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa!

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