Review - Spamilton at the Menier Chocolate Factory
When you have a hit as big as Hamilton on your hands, it’s only a matter of time until it’s ribbed and poked into satire. While Lin-Manuel Miranda is hosting Saturday Night Live skits about his revolutionary musical, back in theatreland, it’s the responsibility of Gerard Alessandrini, the mind behind Forbidden Broadway, to make fun of the modern masterpiece.
Alessandrini stamps his trademark stagey satire across Miranda’s score, moulding songs like “Lin-Manuel As Hamilton”, “The Film When It Happens” and “The Schuyler Puppets” into a plot that sees the actor, played by an uncanny Liam Tamne, take on a Broadway mission to revitalise the Great White Way.
While the show is in-keeping with Forbidden Broadway’s cheeky style of humour, and when it gives the audience (many of whom will be attracted by the Hamilton name) what it wants - memorable versions of the hip-hop songs - it roars. But it ebbs and flows between being raucous fun, to lulls of parodying other Broadway shows.
Sophie-Louise Dann puts in a couple of hilarious cameos as Elaine Paige and Liza Minnelli on the hunt for elusive Hamilton tickets, but when the show delves into the occasional Sondheim skit, it dulls the momentum, and veers away from what could be a thoroughly crowd-pleasing show.
The creative team were tasked with the job of updating the show, which has been seen in the US since 2016, for a British audience. Aforementioned cameos by EP replace those formerly attributed to Bernadette Peters, and as King George, Damian Humbley is a royal laugh as he jabs fun at the scaffolding that hid the Victoria Palace ahead of the musical’s West End premiere.
Spamilton plays almost like a spiced-up cabaret: musical director Simon Beck perches behind a grand piano onstage as the cast revolve for number after number. It begins with a spectacle of a light show for such an intimate venue, it’s just a shame this doesn’t follow through the entire performance.
Julie Yammanee is hilarious as all three Schuyler sisters - Avenue Q-style puppets in hand – as is Marc Akinforlain in his numerous roles ranging from George Washington to Little Orphan Annie. (We also get a glimpse at what a phenomenal voice he has, which we will hopefully hear more of, more often.)
If you’re a musical buff, you know what to expect from a Forbidden Broadway show and it won’t disappoint. If you’re here for Hamilton laughs, you’ll certainly have fun, but don’t go scrambling for a ticket.
Spamilton is at the Menier Chocolate Factory until 8th September.
Spamilton tickets are available now.