Add Spamilton To Your “Gift Giving” List This Holiday Season
I love giving “experiences” as gifts at the holidays for two reasons. First, like homemade gifts, giving an experience is a very personal way of reminding loved ones "you care." And second, receiving an experience is unforgettable! Just ask my kids -- the recipients of numerous experiences and a ton of fun and laughter to boot.
With this in mind, I wanted to recommend an experience to my readers that they may give to their loved ones this Christmas. So I began to seek out options. Before long, the off-Broadway sensation called Spamilton hit my radar. Two tickets later and in the company of good friend and writer Nicole Belanger (who also wrote the foreward to my new book), I found myself sitting, optimistically, in the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre in New York City. I was eager to find out what all of the applause that I had read and heard about this show had been all about.
I soon learned. The show - a parody of Hamilton - is hysterical, smart, and draw-dropping. I could have caught flies in my mouth the entire time I watched (in between giggles, that is). Not only is creator-writer Gerard Alessandrini extremely clever in his vision but the cast is equally so in their execution.
The entire experience is unforgettable, just like the man himself as well as the interview he gave to me below. Don’t miss a single line of it as you will be missing a real treat if you do.
Share your personal mantra?
Make people laugh; make them happy; and help them to see the positive side of life.
Why did parodying become your vehicle of choice throughout your career?
I originally began as a performer-actor. I began writing during my time studying at the Boston Conservatory of Music. That said, I was writing parody since I began, which includes keeping a folder of spoofed songs from Broadway musicals that I created and wrote. The content of that folder would eventually become the show Forbidden Broadway. I’ve been honing my craft for 35 years now.
What made you take the direction you did in parodying Hamilton -- the story of Lin-Manuel Miranda as carried out in the tempo, tone, song and steps of Hamilton?
Hamilton brought originality back to Broadway. It was this truth that became the focus of Spamilton, because that was, in my opinion, the story behind the story.
What was the toughest part about parodying Hamilton?
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s raps are very complex and took years to write. Transitioning them to meet the needs of Spamilton wasn’t easy, especially in the short amount of time we had to do it.
You made a production that could have been very predictable, very unpredictable, funny and incredibly clever including by interspersing outrageous references to long-running, highly revered Broadway shows, entertainment talent and even the gay community. Have you received kickback from any of the three or is everyone taking it all in good fun?
Those who have seen Spamilton have enjoyed their parodies, including Lin-Manuel Miranda. I don’t know of any ruffled feathers currently.
To conceive of the merging of all of the unique aspects of this musical parody is unique and brilliant -- definitely unto you. How do you know when you are on the right track?
When the audience laughs. You never know until you try it in front of an audience.
Why are parodies important in your opinion?
As Broadway takes itself quite seriously, Spamilton reminds everyone to remember that Broadway is entertainment and should be enjoyed that way first. It is also meant for everyone, which is the reason I keep the ticket price for my shows very affordable. Like Hamilton, we used to offer tickets through a lottery to students. If you won the lottery, you could choose between paying ten cents for a ticket or receipt of a can of Spam.
Is there anything off limits to your parodying, given the chance?
It is always better if you pick a show that isn’t a flop. It is not fair or kind to parody a show that is struggling or worse yet, failing.
I am working on a new parody called Blah Blah Land as well as an original musical, a memory story originating in New York City, filled with comedic songs. Additionally, expect a new edition of Forbidden Broadway to come out. I am also directing a non-parody musical celebrating the musical works of Maurry Yeston, the genius behind the Tony Award-winning shows Nine, Grand Hotel & Titanic. The show is called “Anything Can Happen In The Theater.” It will open at the Triad Theater in February or March.
Share the social cause the show gives back to.
Dan Rosalis, who plays Hamilton in Spamilton, suggested that we request donations at the end of each performance for the Puerto Rican Relief Fund given Spamilton is currently running at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre. I loved the idea so we do.
When all is said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as having given people joy and insight through music, song, and laughter.
With a world of awards under his belt, Gerard Alessandrini proves, through yet another of his masterful parodies, that he deserves every one of them. To his further credit, HE is one of the most down-to-earth, gracious, funny, warm, and thoughtful celebrities I’ve ever met. Just another wonderful aspect of this gift to know about and make you feel even better sharing. He depicts naturally what the season is truly all about. Spamilton will conclude its run on January 7, 2018.
Many thanks to Gerard Alessandini and DKC/O&M for making this interview possible