(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/8; via Pam Green.)
Though the juggernaut musical “Hamilton” is bursting with facts and figures from the American Revolution, there’s a whole other, less obvious history that underlies its every performance. No, I am not hinting at the existence of coded conspiracy messages involving the Illuminati. (But apparently, if you play the song “The Reynolds Pamphlet” backward. …)
What I’m talking about is a war that has been waged tirelessly for more than a century: the fight to be perceived as the sole musical left standing tall in the battlefield called Broadway. And if you hope to understand the role of “Hamilton” within this epic struggle, you are earnestly advised to attend the (highly) animated dissertation on the subject, titled “Spamilton,” which opened on Thursday night at the Triad.
This smart, silly and often convulsively funny thesis, performed by a motor-mouthed cast that is fluent in many tongues, is the work of that eminent specialist in Broadway anatomy, pathology and gossip, Gerard Alessandrini. As the creator of the “Forbidden Broadway” series of satirical revues, which began in 1982, Mr. Alessandrini has emerged as one of the mainstream musical’s most incisive and illuminating critics and historians.
If you weren’t aware of such academic acumen while you were watching his revues, it was because you were laughing too hard. But to this day, I find that when I think of certain shows — whether they’re hits like “Les Misérables” and “Spring Awakening,” or flops like “Aspects of Love” and “Big” — it’s the “Forbidden Broadway” spoof that first surfaces in my memory.