By Christina Armeni
Every fall the University of Maryland invites families and students to take on three days of Terp life with themed meals, information sessions and performances. This year’s family weekend, taking place September 21-23, was nothing less than usual.
On Friday, September 21, attendees gathered in The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center to watch a performance of “Shamilton,” an improv comedy-musical depicting an audience-picked historical figure or modern day celebrity. Originated by critically acclaimed improv troupe “Baby Wants Candy,” “Shamilton” is clearly a pun riffing off of the Broadway hit “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda — except instead of $500 to $1000 tickets, “Shamilton” cost students and families $18 and is completely made up on the spot.
The performers, six actors and a two-man band, entered the bare stage enthusiastically, all wearing the same tan clothes. After basic introductions they proceeded to ask the audience to shout out any historical figure or celebrity. Everyone in the crowd started screaming at once.
From the section around me, I heard O.J. Simpson, Kim Kardashian and Bill Nye rattled off. The actors picked out three random names they heard from the audience: Madonna, Babe Ruth, and Elon Musk. After a crowd vote, Elon Musk was decided as the winner. The lights immediately went out and the crowd was taken on a 60 minute improvised musical about Elon Musk, a task I didn’t even know was possible.
In all honesty, I had low expectations for the show, having experienced far too much bad improv in the past. Surprisingly, “Shamilton,” was outrageously funny and the talent was top notch. The performers rapped and sang probably a dozen songs that were all entirely thought of right before the audience’s eyes. These were no amateurs.
The actors knew exactly what they were doing and were able to swiftly bounce off of each other to create a fluid, well-timed work of art. The plot included appearances by the ghosts of Henry Ford and Steve Jobs, a rap battle between Elon Musk and Bill Gates and a meteor dooming the earth. If you really consider how much time, money and effort goes into creating a musical at any level, you realize how incredible the show was.
The show ended with a standing ovation and roaring crowd. It was clear that this show hit everyone’s funny bone. “Shamilton” was a hilariously entertaining good time, that left me wanting more.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of the University of Maryland’s Family Weekend Website.
Christina Armeni is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.