Spamtown, USA takes place from 1983 to 1986, on several typical days in a typical American town. We check in during spirit week at the local high school every year, marking the passage of time. The story centers on three Hormel families (inspired by real people in Austin interviewed by the creative team):
- The Boltons: dad (Dean Holt) works in the office, mom (Autumn Ness) is the only woman in R&D, teenager Amy (Arden Michalec) is inspired by Madonna to go into fashion, and Carol (Malia Berg) is an inquisitive kindergartner.
- The Berg/Olsens: divorced parents (Sandra Struthers and understudy Chance Carroll, filling in for Dan Hopman at the performance I attended) both work in the plant, teenager Travis (Zachary Sullivan) is Carol's boyfriend and wants to follow the family tradition and work in the plant, and middle schooler Jude (Isabella Spies) is good at tennis.
- The other Olsens: dad (Reed Sigmund) is brother to the above and also works in the plant, mom (Maureen Sherman-Mendez) does hair in her living room, and Scott (Marcelo Mena) is a vegetarian and dreams of becoming an astronaut.
|Cram your Spam! (photo by Glen Stubbe)|
|I believe the children are our future (Isabella Spiess,|
Marcelo Mena, Zachary Sullivan, Malia Berg,
and Arden Michalec, photo by Glen Stubbe)
While the kids in the audience (the show is recommended for 9 and up) might not get all of the '80s references, their parents will likely be delighted with them and the '80s music playing pre-show, as I was. Marty McFly, garbage pail kids, moon boots, and lots of fun '80s slang (watch this adorable video of the Gen Z-ers trying to figure out the Gen X slang). On a less fun '80s note, those of us who were students in January 1986 know exactly where the aspiring astronaut story is heading; the scene of Scott watching it play out brought me right back to that awful day.
|photo by Glen Stubbe|
Spamtown, USA takes a complicated issue that was a historic event in Minnesota (the governor called in the National Guard at one point) and distills it down to an engaging and personal story that kids (and adults) can understand and connect to.
Spamtown, USA continues through April 5.