Can’t get a ticket to “Hamilton”? Try “Spamilton,” the new spoof of the Broadway megasmash from the mind behind 30 years of “Forbidden Broadway,” Gerard Alessandrini. Variety dropped by a recent rehearsal for the show, which begins performances Tuesday night at the Triad Theater on the Upper West Side. Here’s what you need to know.
It’s about a youthful crusader on a quest to save Broadway.
Unlike the revue format of “Forbidden Broadway,” “Spamilton” has a loose plot. It centers on a young upstart (Dan Rosales) who’s half Alexander Hamilton and half “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, a mash-up dubbed “Lin-Manuel as Hamilton.” (Sing it to the tune of opening number “Alexander Hamilton.”) He’s out to save Broadway from mediocrity: “I am not gonna let Broadway rot,” he raps in the spoof’s redux of the song “My Shot.”
It’s not just “Hamilton” that gets a pie in the face.
Fresh off its 11 Tony wins, “Hamilton” provides about half of the fodder for “Spamilton,” according to Alessandrini, but he can’t help sticking it to the whole Street, past and present, while he’s at it. One sequence sees the actresses who play the Schuyler sisters — two of whom are puppets — pointing out the hybridized titles of current attractions like “An American Psycho in Paris” and “The Lion King and I.” (“Look around, look around, look around at how yucky shows all are mashing up right now,” they sing.)
Stephen Sondheim is also Ben Franklin.
A fictional version of legendary musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim makes an appearance in a sequence inspired by the mutual admiration and friendship shared by the real-life Sondheim and Miranda. But in this world Sondheim is also Ben Franklin, in keeping with the founding-father era of “Hamilton.” Keep an ear out for winking references to Sondheim musicals like “Assassins” and “Into the Woods” — and an eye out for the Phantom of the Opera, who shows up too.
There are special guest stars.
The production has created slots for potential guest stars, to be drawn (at least initially) from “Forbidden Broadway” alums like Christine Pedi (who’s also a producer). A male guest star will step into a joke-filled version of King George III’s song “You’ll Be Back,” while a female guest star will get a song that thumbs its nose at Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters and Carol Channing, plus an option of Liza, Judy or Barbara — based on whoever she impersonates best.
There’s a lottery just like #Ham4Ham.
Inspired by the $10-a-ticket lottery at “Hamilton,” this one’s called #Spam4Roosevelt — as in FDR, the president whose face is on the dime. Winners pay ten cents for each of up to two tickets.
You’ll want a drink.
“You’re meant to have a drink, have fun. It’s a summer entertainment,” Alessandrini said. It’s a cabaret-style show (complete with two-drink minimum), and he’s hoping it’ll appeal not only to the theater fans who turned up for “Forbidden Broadway” but also to an early-20s crowd of youthful “Hamilton” devotees. College-age audiences used to turn out in force for “Forbidden Broadway,” too — “because the humor’s kind of sophomoric,” Alessandrini noted gleefully.
New gags will be added along the way.
Although “Spamilton” is currently only running through Aug. 18, Alessandrini isn’t ruling out the possibility of future life, and he’ll be tweaking and cutting and adding throughout the run. For instance: It only recently occurred to him that he hasn’t worked in a reference to Miranda’s fluency in Spanish. That’s worthy of a joke, or maybe a whole song. “We don’t have it now,” he said a few days before the first performance. “Come back in a week or two.”