By Lucy Komisar
The fellow on stage looks familiar. He wears an 18th-century blue coat and gold buttons and is rapping. But the words are not being played on Broadway, they are what some of us were thinking when we saw the original.
Instead of hearing Thomas Jefferson sing “What Did I Miss?” we get, “What Did You Miss?” “What did you miss…..the lyrics so fast ….my diction is muddled.”
But, “No one admits they can‘t keep up with the pace.” And, “Another hundred syllables come out of my mouth.”
Coming out of the mouths of another Alessandrini team of very talented musical actors is his parody of Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s “Hamilton.” And here is Lin-Manuel himself (Dan Rosales), rapping “I had a dream” that he would rewind the track on Broadway.
He gets help from confr¨res also in white pants, beige vests and black boots (Chris Anthony Giles, Nicole Ortiz, Larry Owens and Tristan J. Shuler), all with fine voices.
Lin writes to Stephen Sondheim, an idol, and suddenly changes tune. It‘s “Finishing the Rap” (to “Finishing the Hat” from “Sunday in the Park with George.”)
And there is advice (to “Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods”):
“Careful the rap you play/
No one will listen/
Careful how dense the phrase/
People will leave.”
But nobody leaves this show.
You can‘t see an Alessandrini production without a shout-out to some of his iconic targets. What do you get when you combine “The Lion King” and “The King and I?” “Shall We Roar!‘ (Waltz to that!) And more, from characters in “Phantom,” “Aladdin” and “Cats.”
A highlight is Gina Kreiezmar as the Guest Diva. She appears from the audience as a beggar shuffling under a black shawl and pleading for “Hamilton tickets for an unemployed actress.” Throwing off the wrap, she is red-headed and singing perfectly in the style of Bernadette Peters.
Later, Kreiezmar reappears as Liza, with red glitter over black sequins. A perfect imitation and very funny. She belts out
“Down with rap and all of the hip hop ….
Down with rap, let‘s drown it out with a tune/
Put back the tune/
The sounds of the birds in the trees and the Viennese.” High kick.
And another beggar. “I need Hamilton tickets.” She is offered twofers to “Shuffle Along.” Off comes a black cape to reveal Audra McDonald.
“Barbra Streisand” appears, declaring, “I‘m verklempt.” It means overcome with emotion. But not that verklempt that she doesn‘t see an opportunity: “I wanna be in the film when it happens.”
You‘ll be overcome with laughter. And appreciation that Alessandrini seems never to run out of inspiration for his Broadway spoofs.
“Spamilton.” Written and directed by Gerard Alessandrini. Triad 158 W 72nd St, New York City. From July at 47th Street Theatre, 304 West 47th Street, New York City. (212) 279-4200. Opened September 8, 2016. 6/27/17.