Desert Star Playhouse’s Spamilton Creates a Revolutionary Good Time in Murray

By Ana Keele

The Founding Fathers get a local makeover in the Desert Star Playhouse production of Spamilton: A Parody in Murray. As the citizen of rural Nephi are tired of how they are being treated and in talks of secession from the state of Utah, newcomer Alexandra Christensen (Melissa Cecala/Corinne Adair) seeks to finally win an election and take over the new city. Written and directed by Scott Holman, this hilarious parody on the Broadway Musical Hamilton showcases the Desert Star Playhouse at its best with relatable jokes, fun numbers, and wholesome entertainment for the whole family. The show starts with an introduction from Holman himself who calls this show “the hardest they have ever done at the Playhouse” and gives a quick overview on Hamilton, namely how expensive tickets for the show are. The price of tickets for the Broadway show is a recurring joke throughout the whole of the performance and is hilarious every time it is brought up.

With a minimal set by designers Ken Lineberry, Louis Bitterman, Brian Tolman, Timothy Riggs and Remington Sorenson, the characters are given a chance to shine and play with the stage as a whole. At the same time, the small casts put Justus Jorgenson in several different roles which for me was actually the funniest part of the show. Every time he comes out in a different costume, sometimes doing nothing more than changing his wig, he makes it obvious that it is the same person adding to the atmosphere of the parody concept. His recurring portrayal of The Governor (also played by Matt O’Malley) puts him in an enormous hat that does not allow him any movement besides facial expressions as he sings the song “Come, Come Back Ye Saints” while the audience explodes in laughter. Another stand-out is Daniel Akin (Willie Tyler) who grumbles unintelligible nonsense through the entire performance in such an effortless and hilarious way that I was actually surprised and taken aback when he spoke in a normal voice at the end of the show.

I was worried that with the parody nature of the show things would be over the top and overdone, but Musical Director Ben Mayfield and choreographer Alison Cox kept the normal style of hip hop and rap in the way the songs are sung and danced. This decision keeps the jokes on the actual lyrics and keeps the dance numbers from turning silly. Of course, the real MVP of the show is the accompanist (Catie Omer/David Slack). Sitting right off the stage armed with a piano, a microphone, and sound effects, Omer displays incredible talent as she literally played the entire show.

While Spamilton is appropriate for the whole family, I do have to suggest an older audience. This is due to the fact that is very fast talking and there is a lot of plot in the actual songs that might be missed by younger kids. I was sitting next to a family several young children that had a hard time paying attention throughout the show.

This was my first time going to the Desert Star Playhouse and it did not disappoint. The close proximity to the stage and audience participation makes the atmosphere of the theatre extremely enjoyable. Of course, I can never complain about a theatre that serves food. My mother-in-law Julie had eaten before the show but we wished we hadn’t as they have a full service menu including some “revolutionary” items and drinks specific to Spamilton itself. We did make room for the delicious popcorn provided at each table and a couple of chocolate brownie sundaes, but next time we are definitely waiting to eat at the theatre.

Desert Star Playhouse presents Spamilton by Scott Holman
Desert Star Playhouse, 4861 South State Street, Murray UT 84107
March 22- June 2, 2018
7:00 PM Monday-Thursday (No shows on Tuesday),  6:00 PM, 8:30 PM Friday, 11:30 AM, 2:30 PM, 6:00 PM,8:30 PM Saturday
Tickets: Adult $24.95 Child (11 and under) $14.95
Contact: 801-266-2600
Desert Star Facebook Page 

 

 

 

2 Replies to “Desert Star Playhouse’s Spamilton Creates a Revolutionary Good Time in Murray”

  1. I recently visited the Desert Star to see Spamilton, based on positive word of mouth from friends (and my fiancée) who had seen past shows. Since there are very few reviews on the actual show, I thought I would share my experience in the hopes that prospective patrons find it helpful.

    Before I address the content of Spamilton, I would like to give credit to the facilities. We found the box office and wait staff respectful, cheerful, and professional. I liked the cleanliness and theming of the facilities. We ordered a large BBQ chicken pizza for my fiancée and I to eat during the show; we both agreed that it was promptly served and reasonably delicious. We also appreciated the complimentary popcorn and frequent water refills.

    That being said, I wish we had a good experience with Spamilton. I personally love parodies both local and national: Weird Al music, Divine Comedy, Studio C, Comedy Sportz, SNL, Mad Magazine, etc. I was expecting a fun blend of Monty Python silliness and local, current references in the musical style of Hamilton. Instead, I felt like I got a show specifically meant to land cheap shots on Democrats, Liberals, Progressives, etc. (which I find odd, since the county has a sizeable portion of blue voters…)

    I won’t spoil any more than I have to, but I must report one of the annoying omissions – the framing of the villain. At the beginning, the piano musician gives a spiel on how the audience should react to the hero and villain (cheers and boos, respectively).

    SPOILER ALERT: The villain is HILLARY CLINTON. Her photo is projected for all to see and boo.

    In the musical, her diabolical plot is to become the mayor of Nephi… so she could be the mayor of Nephi. She later takes the name Alexandra Christiansen to not arouse suspicion. The whole play is her acting awkwardly and trying to push a progressive agenda in a small town. There is also a vaguely racist and poorly executed Colin Kaepernick joke.

    Needless to say, my fiancée and I did not find the show enjoyable. The cast attempted to stay true to the Hamilton’s musical style and were decently talented; however, since Hamilton has a lot of quick rapping, if the entire cast doesn’t project in unified, diction, you aren’t able to catch the jokes they are trying to sing to you (maybe a little section for the lyrics in the complimentary menu/playbill would have been nice).

    More importantly, we didn’t find the jokes funny. We chuckled at some toilet humor and some other quips, but we didn’t find the awkward antics of Alexandra Christiansen amusing. That is not to say we don’t appreciate good political satire – we’ve seen some good ribbing and impressions of the former Secretary of State. The main issue was we weren’t expecting a continuous, direct lampooning of the former First Lady with the humor being pointed mostly at her and the political positions of her constituents. There also wasn’t a balance or a mutual back-and-forth teasing (I counted one lukewarm Trump joke) – it felt more like a reactionary musical from the mind of Jon McNaughton.

    My fiancée and I ended up paying for the food and leaving during intermission. We felt like we had wasted our money and time; my fiancée was especially distraught because she grew up visiting the Desert Star often with her family. She had positive, fun experiences in the past and was upset how political the show had become. In retrospect, I should have figured that an institution as old as the Desert Star would cater more to the older, conservative base typically found in Utah – it would only be natural that such an audience would delight in a political musical deprecating Hillary Clinton. There is nothing wrong with this; I just wouldn’t have paid $80 on a dinner musical if I knew that was going to be the topic.

    Part of the joy of entertainment is being able to escape life and enjoy a little fantasy. In that aspect, I feel that Spamilton was inadvertently deceptive. I was expecting light-hearted, musical silliness with the occasional peppering of political jabs; instead I got a continuation of my Facebook feed set to music. In essence, I feel a great parody would earn the respect of its progenitor and fanbase. In this case, I don’t feel like Lin Manuel Miranda and the majority of Hamilton fans would find Spamilton comical.

    In conclusion, if you don’t like Hillary Clinton, you should see this show – I think you would enjoy it. If not, I would avoid this current parody. I am not sure if we’ll ever visit again, but I hope that our perspective helps potential buyers know what type of entertainment they are purchasing.

    1. Hello–
      Thank you so much for your important and authentic message. I will forward this to the Desert Star, but you may want to reach out to them, too. I hope all theaters that do original shows are open to feedback of all types. We want the best product and I know they do, too.
      I’m grateful you follow Front Row Reviewers Utah and are frank and real with your comments here. You are what’s best about the Arts–being honest.
      Thanks again–
      Jennifer Mustoe, CEO

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

AlphaOmega Captcha Classica  –  Enter Security Code