Spamilton: An American Parody visits The Phoenix Theatre Company

(Left to right): Datus Puryear, Ani Djirdjirian, Adrian Lopez, Dominic Pecikonis and Chuckie Benson. Photo by Roger Mastroianni.

By Laura Latzko

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton forever changed the theater scene with its diverse cast and incorporation of hip hop music. A parody show by Forbidden Broadway creator Gerard Alessandrini lovingly satirizes the Hamilton creator and other Broadway stars and shows.

The Phoenix Theatre Company will host the national tour of Spamilton: An American Parody from Wednesday, June 12, to Sunday, August 11.  

The show references popular Broadway shows such as The Book of Mormon, The King and I, West Side Story, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Lion King, Wicked, Cats, In the Heights and Mary Poppins and stars such as Patti LuPone, Barbra Streisand, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bernadette Peters, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli and Stephen Sondheim.

It pokes fun at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s journey in creating Hamilton and the show’s overwhelming popularity.  

Swing actress Marissa Hecker plays a number of different female roles in Spamilton: An American Parody’s national tour.

The production has a cast of seven, many of whom play multiple parts. Actor Adrian Lopez portrays the leading man, Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

Marissa Hecker, one of two actresses in the show, plays different female roles throughout the show. 

A recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, Hecker has a background as a singer, dancer, actress, cartoonist and writer. This is her first national tour.

Acting as a swing means she has to switch from one character to another quickly, adapting her voice and mannerisms to each role.  

“I’m able to compartmentalize my brain to have all of these different characters in my head and what I need to appear like, what I need to sound like. I have very specific images in my head of what I need to do for each moment,” Hecker said.

In one scene, Hecker plays Angelica Schuyler actress Renee Elise Goldsberry and holds two puppets to represent Phillipa Soo and Jasmine Cephas Jones, the original actresses who played the other two Schuyler Sisters in Hamilton.  

Hecker said the biggest challenge of the show is finding a balance in playing the characters over-the-top but making them relatable.

“You as the performer understand how ridiculous it is, but the most important job of an actor is to tell the story. So, you really want to believe everything that you say,” Hecker said.  

The cabaret-style production is performed in smaller theaters, with the audience close to the action onstage. During some moments in the show, the actors address the audience members directly.

The show spoofs popular Hamilton songs with versions such as “Lin-Manuel As Hamilton,” “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Cries,” “Ticket Beggar Woman,”  “What Did You Miss?,” “Aaron Burr, Sir, Nervous-er,” “His Shot” and “Straight is Back.”

“They use songs from Hamilton against themselves to make fun of its own ridiculousness and its own seriousness,” Hecker said.

In scenes throughout the show, props and costumes play a major role in helping to tell the story and reference other Broadway musicals and personalities.  

The show was designed for both more casual and serious theatergoers. Hecker said that most audience members will know at least some of the references.  

“It’s really a show for everyone, both Hamilton fans and Broadway fans,” Hecker said.

Spamilton: An American Parody occurs at various times from June 12 to August 11 at the Hormel Theatre at The Phoenix Theatre Company, 1825 N. Central Ave. Tickets start at $32. Call 602-254-2151 or visit phoenixtheatre.com for information.