What Happened When Stephen Sondheim and Lin-Manuel Miranda Saw Themselves Spoofed in Spamilton?

Lists   What Happened When Stephen Sondheim and Lin-Manuel Miranda Saw Themselves Spoofed in Spamilton? In honor of the parody’s one-year anniversary, the cast of the hit Off-Broadway show share their craziest stories and star-studded memories.
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Chris Anthony Giles, Nicholas Edwards, Dan Rosales, Juwan Crawley and Nora Schell in Spamilton Carol Rosegg

When the mania around Hamilton swept the nation (now the globe), Forbidden Broadway creator Gerard Alessandrini knew he had fodder for his next parody musical project: Spamilton. Now celebrating its one-year anniversary, Spamilton has moved from its uptown debut at the Triad Theatre to the 47th Street Theatre Off-Broadway, opened a separate production in Chicago (where Hamilton also has a sit-down run at the Private Bank Theatre), and will soon open a limited run at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles November 5–December 31.

The musical spoof was named Best Unique Theatrical Experience by the Off-Broadway Alliance, Show of the Year at the MAC Awards, and was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards, an Outer Critics’ Circle Award, a Theater Fans’ Choice Award, and a Drama League Distinguished Performance.

For tickets to Spamilton, click here.

Much like earlier incarnations of Forbidden Broadway, the show pokes fun at a number of Broadway shows including Hamilton, Annie, Ragtime, and more. But the actors of Spamilton go beyond a parody of the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning hip-hop musical; they each pay homage to the actors who created the now famous roles in the musical about America’s Ten-Dollar Founding Father. Here, 13 members of the current and original cast of Spamilton share their favorite role and the hilarious moments that makes a night on 47th Street stand out above the rest.

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Lin Manuel Miranda and Dan Rosales

Dan Rosales (Original Cast - Lin Manuel-Miranda as Hamilton)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
I spoof Lin-Manuel for the entirety of the show, and it’s so much fun. I play him as a whiny, nasally geek trying to save Broadway. Getting to play Lin-Manuel for Lin-Manuel himself (twice now) was also amazing. He was able to laugh at himself and all of us laughing at/with him! How many times to you get to imitate someone you look up to and have them see you imitate them?

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
The night we had the Hamilton creative team was pretty amazing. It was our official opening and we had Tommy Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Alex Lacamoire there, along with so many others including Rachael Ray, Rachel York, Seth Rudetsky, Gregg Edelman, Stephen Sondheim… and the list goes on and on and on. It was an honor to perform for all of them, but I was SO surprised to see Rachael Ray and her family there! I grew up watching 30-Minute Meals after school and as soon as I started the show I had an internal freak out, “Oh my god, Lin-Manuel is here...” and then I see Rachael Ray and in my mind I’m like “OH MY GOD RACHAEL RAY I LOVE 30 MINUTE MEALS.” It was a hilarious internal conversation.

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Nicole Vanessa Ortiz

Nicole Vanessa Ortiz (Current Cast – Renee Elise Goldsberry as The Schuyler Sisters and others)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
I really enjoy doing the J Lo/Lin-Manuel mashup song [about celebs trying to get Hamilton tickets] because I get to channel three amazing women—J Lo, Beyoncé, and Gloria Estefan—in one shot!

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
There was one night that I did this song where I wasn’t able to come out on stage with the dress I normally wear for it, so instead I just appeared in my regular corset. Funnily enough I used it to my advantage and shimmied the hell out of my breasts by the time I made my Gloria Estefan appearance, which made most of the audience laugh harder than normal.

SHOP HAMILTON MERCHANDISE AT THE PLAYBILL STORE!

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Tristan J. Shuler

Tristan J. Shuler (Current Cast – Daveed Diggs as Jefferson /Lafayette and others)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
I play a gooooood amount of characters throughout the show, not even counting when I understudy for a different role. My favorite role that I get to spoof most nights is Daveed Diggs; we grow his hair into a huge afro so I can swing it all around the stage. He’s a cool guy, and I get to play him as Lafayette and Jefferson, and also semi-Will Smith/Fresh Prince era, so I do live for my nightly rap battles onstage.

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
Oh Lord, it was maybe my fourth or fifth show after I started Spamilton and my afro wig fell off of my head four times throughout the show. At first, I was like, “Oh that’s cute; they laughed. But it ain’t happening again.” And then it happened again and again, almost to the point where I just HAD to make it a choice so it looked intentional. So it flew off my head four times total: three times by accident, one time a little on purpose, all four times hilariously embarrassing.

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Nora Schell and Lin Manuel Miranda

Nora Schell (Original Cast – Schuyler Sisters and others, Drama Desk nominee for her work in Spamilton)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
My favorite character I got to play was definitely Audra McDonald [in the Ragtime sketch] because I got to sing soprano and I didn’t have to belt, which was a nice break for my voice! It was fun because Audra is an icon and theatre legend, so impersonating her was a unique challenge.

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
Stephen Sondheim came to the show on a night I was recovering from pneumonia and we didn’t have the understudy that night so I couldn’t call out. In the second half of the show we do a Sondheim parody, and I sing a spoof of “Another Hundred People,” so the entire show I was freaking out between numbers trying to figure out a way to sing this song without losing my voice in front of the legend who wrote it.

Read More: 8 WAYS TO ACTUALLY GET HAMILTON TICKETS

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Aaron Michael Ray

Aaron Michael Ray (Current Cast – Okieriete Onaodowan as Mulligan and others)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
Fortunately, I get to play at least five characters in the show. Ultimately my favorite role to spoof has to be Stephen Sondheim. I mean, how many people can say that they’ve played the legend himself in a musical before? When I looked at all of the characters I knew I was going to play, this one excited me the most, especially because of the wig I’m wearing.

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
Speaking of wigs...in the scene where I’m playing Sondheim, I sing an entire song to Dan [who plays Lin/Hamilon] and I get a little carried away flipping the hair from my wig. There have been a couple of nights where that long hair gets caught in the side of my mouth while I’m singing and all Dan does is just smile at me because there is truly nothing he can do. As soon as I get off stage I feel like I’m coughing up a hairball!

Christine Pedi as Bette Midler in <i>Spamilton</i>
Christine Pedi as Bette Midler in Spamilton

Christine Pedi (Original Cast - Guest Diva)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
I love Barbra Streisand because it’s maximum effect with minimum effort, at least when she is speaking. She’s so understated, but so unique and impactful. And she introduces the 11 o’clock number for the cast, the title of which I prefer not to give away because it’s so damn funny!

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
The most memorable night as an impressionist was when I did my Liza Minnelli number and realized her sister, Lorna Luft, was in the audience. She’s a living doll…But still it was a weird feeling. However, the audience was out of control with laughter, so mission accomplished. A good time was had by all, including Lorna, who was delightful afterward and took photos with the cast.

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Glenn Bassett

Glenn Bassett (Original Cast – The King)
You only play King George. Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
Yes! The night that Stephen Sondheim came to see Spamilton was amazing. Because I enter and exit through the audience, I got to see him up close cheering and laughing for me. Stephen Sondheim whooped for me! It was a thrill of a lifetime!

Larry Owens and Claudia Yanez
Larry Owens and Claudia Yanez

Claudia Yanez (Female Swing)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
My favorite bit that we do in the show is the J Lo/Beyoncé/Gloria Estefan bit because it’s always a lot of fun to try and make Dan (as Lin Manuel-Miranda) break during the bit. I always try to push the impressions far enough that he is always a little on his toes for it.

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
One of the craziest experiences during my ten months in Spamilton has to be getting sent out to Chicago with 12 hours notice to perform the show [with that production]. The staging in the show is a little bit different in Chicago so it was a crazy challenge to learn all of the choreography and staging and then do all four shows with a completely different company. During the first show I completely broke onstage and stopped the show because David, the actor who was playing Annie, made me laugh so hard. It took a solid minute-and-a-half for me to be able to breathe and finish the song.

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Cameron Amandus as The Book of No More Mormons

Cameron Amandus (Male Swing)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
The Ben “Sondheim” Franklin part is my favorite, because it’s such a ridiculous idea, and when it’s realized onstage, people really enjoy it.

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you? Do tell.
I was on for the Sondheim Franklin role, and at the end of the number we all do a sassy snap. Well I went to do the first one, and the wig flew clean off my head and across the stage. I quickly dipped down, grabbed the wig, and proudly swished it for the next snap. The audience loved it.

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Juwan Crawley as Genie in Spamilton

Juwan Crawley (Original Cast – Okieriete Onaodowan as Mulligan and others)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
My favorite role, hands down, was Annie. The audience burst into hysterics whenever I appeared on stage in the iconic red dress and curly-haired wig singing “NYC” from Annie and for me, personally, that moment in Spamilton always felt surreal. I missed my last day of college to audition for Spamilton and here I was working in New York shortly after graduating from school. The original lyrics to “NYC” sung by the star-to-be expressed the idea of coming to New York with very little and trying to “make it.” That always resonated with me and now I was in a wonderful Off-Broadway show beginning to live out my dream.

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
There is a section in Spamilton where I came out dressed in an Aladdin-like Genie costume with a big turban. I found out that I was going to be the new standby for The Genie in Aladdin on Broadway while I was wearing that outfit. This was a role I aspired to play, but never thought I would get that opportunity less than a year after joining the company of Spamilton—making my Broadway debut at the age of 22.



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Larry Owens as Benjamin Sondheim Franklin

Larry Owens (Replacement – Okieriete Onaodowan as Mulligan and others)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
My favorite role by far was Benjamin “Sondheim” Franklin during the Broadway ‘Yesteryear’ sequence of the show. A 20-something black guy playing the greatest living musical theatre composer is the definition of inclusive casting—which Hamilton is so great about. Gerard’s lyrics were as taut as the original by Stephen Sondheim. The song: “Children Will Listen. I am the Bernadette Peters of my generation.”

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
One of the best gags in the show involves me playing the little orphan Annie. My definitive version is the 1999 Rob Marshall directed version with the all-star cast that includes Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Kathy Bates, and Lizzie McGuire star Lalaine—which I watched every night in seventh grade. The lyricist and director of Annie, Martin Charnin, came to the show...and loved it. It was a childhood dream come true!

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Lauren Villegas as Renee Elise Goldsberry with the Schuyler Puppets

Lauren Villegas (Replacement - Schuyler Sisters and others)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
At the end of the show, I get to spoof Phillipa [Soo] and sing “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Cries” which is my favorite part, hands down. Her voice is so unique. Her vibrato and placement are sooo fun to tap into. I also loved doing the Barbra Streisand character, though the impersonation is very difficult. A close family relative who impersonates Barbra helped me learn the craft, and he got to come see me do his Babs onstage and it was one of the coolest moments of my career so far.

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
Learning the show and joining the cast in only six days was one of the craziest things I’ve ever had to do and also probably one of the things I’m proudest of in my career so far. I never could have done it without Dan Rosales. He’s one of the best dance captains and leaders I’ve ever worked with. His professionalism, positivity, and kindness are unflappable. Getting to work on a show with a cast where the majority of us all spoke Spanish was a first and a joy. April Fool’s Day with the Spam Fam was EPIC. Azalea (Wardrobe Supervisor) and I told the boys we had come in that morning and spotted a mouse in the dressing room. It became a casual topic of conversation throughout our two-show day, talking about whether or not we would see the mouse. During the evening show Azalea dropped the “mouse” on the floor in the middle of the boys dressing room and they all screamed and one even jumped on top of a chair. It was marvelous.

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Robert Azaria on as Lin Manuel-Miranda

Robert Ariza (Replacement - Male Swing)
What is your favorite role to spoof in the show?
Playing the King (Queen, really) is pretty great cause you come on, sing a silly diddy, make the audience laugh, and then sashay right off, never to be seen again. It makes me feel like an old-time star for some reason.

Was there one night in particular playing this role that stands out to you?
The last time I went on was as an emergency cover for the Lin-Manuel track was very exciting. I hadn’t performed the role in four months and I was contacted a few days before I would have to go onstage. I was in rehearsal for a reading during the days that week, so I had ZERO time for a brush-up rehearsal, but I did the track twice in one day regardless, and it was thrilling because I didn’t know what was going to happen. It’s amazing how the brain will rise to the occasion when it’s under pressure!

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