Comedy

Spamilton, the Musical That Takes the Stuffing Out of Broadway, Is Coming to the Coppell Arts Center

T.J. Newton (center) as  "Lin-Manuel as Alexander Hamilton" (no, seriously, that's the character's name) in Spamilton: An American Parody.
T.J. Newton (center) as "Lin-Manuel as Alexander Hamilton" (no, seriously, that's the character's name) in Spamilton: An American Parody. Ron Elkman
Long before hits like The Producers, The Book of Mormon and Hamilton came along, Broadway felt like some distant land trapped in a time bubble.

If it wasn't stage productions of popular movies and TV shows, it was something even worse: the same, old classics over and over and over again.

Something was needed to take the stuffiness out of the Great White Way. Shows like Hamilton, the hip-hop musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton, written and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, did just that by introducing deeper themes and new genres of music for contemporary audiences.

Now that Hamilton is the musical that everyone says you have to see if you value your friendships and relationships, it was time to take it down a peg or two. Enter stage right Spamilton: An American Parody, written by Gerard Alessandrini, the creator of the off-Broadway musical parody Forbidden Broadway. Spamilton's touring company is bringing its sendup of new and old Broadway productions to the Coppell Arts Center for two shows on Friday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 5.

"I love Hamilton," says actor Jorge Blakely, a Dallas native and stage actor who plays Lin-Manuel Miranda playing Alexander Hamilton in Spamilton's touring company. "We all do. It's definitely the show I'd love to get into eventually in my career, but I've also loved spoofs. I love a good parody, and Spamilton is the perfect combination of the two."

Spamilton isn't just a straight-up spoof of Hamilton. The show focuses its sights on all sorts of Broadway targets, including repurposed stage classics of Mary Poppins, the Harry Potter movies and books, and revolutionary new hits like The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q. Spamilton's story centers on Miranda's crusade to reinvigorate Broadway with new voices and sounds in a new musical production ... within a musical production. If the concept were any more meta, the universe might collapse.

"He's tired of the old shows being done and revived and we need to do something new and revolutionary, which keeps it in line with Hamilton and the [American] Revolution," Blakely says. "Anyone can see it even without knowing Hamilton and still follow the story, enjoy the tunes and see familiar things if they're familiar with Broadway too. There's a lot of easter eggs hidden in the show." 
Spamilton borrows the melodies from Hamilton and other musical productions to tell Miranda's story while poking fun at the industry with songs like "(I Wanna Be in) The Film When It Happens," "I Am Not Going to Let Broadway Rot" to the tune of Hamilton's "My Shot" and "Book of No More Mormons" to the tune of the main theme of The Book of Mormon, the Tony-award-winning musical penned by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q's Robert Lopez.

The latter song pokes fun at how the success of Hamilton eclipsed Parker, Stone and Lopez's edgy musical with lyrics like, "Hello, my name is last year's hit, although we used to pack 'em in, we're in the half-price booth."

"There are jokes where it's like 'Oooo, that's a dig" but it's also done with respect to all these artists and other shows because they are kind of like the ones that came before," Blakely says. "It's very smart with the way they pay their respects."

The production is also performed on a minimalist set as the songs zip between Hamilton and other productions, so it leaves the settings up to the audience's imagination. Blakely says that just makes the jokes land even harder.

"It's very broken down, but it's just to make the focus on the story and actors," Blakely says. "I personally think it's more effective that way and a little funnier in that sense."

Blakely says it's just as fun for the cast to send up the Broadway machine even as they aspire to make their own break on the big stage.

"As a person in the theater and performing, it's really funny to see it and hear these jokes and laugh along with it," Blakely says. "The audiences so far, they totally get it. It's funny to hear these things about the shows."
click to enlarge
Paloma D’Auria presents a puppet performance as the Leading Ladies in an Avenue Q-inspired spoof in the Broadway musical parody Spamilton: An American Parody.
Ron Elkman
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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