BWW Interview: Steven Parker Talks Monday Musicals at the Whitefire
A veteran actor, writer and producer hailing from Colorado. Steven has credits in a slew of hit movies including Juno, Rebound, Blades of Glory and Little Miss Sunshine. He's also had substantial roles on primetime television shows such as ER, Rizzoli and Isles, Fish Hooks, 90210, and PBS's Mercy Street along with countless national commercials. Steven co-wrote and produced the highly successful theatre show Lost: The Musical. He had the pleasure of directing, co-writing and producing the Los Angeles, San Diego and Off-Broadway runs of ShameThe Musical. Currently Steven works as the managing director of the Whitefire Theatre's musical theatre company.
What challenges does it take to bring Shame of Thrones: The Musical to such a small space?
PARKER: This run will mark the fourth time we've mounted this show, so at this point we're incredibly fluid in adapting the show to take advantage of the space we're in. We've been in everything from huge auditoriums to small intimate spaces. It's a challenge, sure. But that obstacle allows us to think creatively on how to optimize the environment to fully bring our story (and comedy) to life.
I understand the cast is large with many returning from the original. Is the production the same or have there been changes?
PARKER: The production always changes bits and pieces from city to city. We add new jokes to accommodate the new episodes. We add characters and interactive elements to engage the audience. We allow a bit of improv to keep the material fresh and alive. Luckily our wonderful cast are still bringing the energy and talent that made us a success the first time around. We're very proud to say that many of our large seventeen person cast are returning to make this happen yet again.
Game of Thrones has been such a hit on film. Did the original stage musical provoke a feverish reaction?
PARKER: YES! We had loads of cosplayers, GoT "activists", and hard core fans come to see our show on both sides of the country! It was GoT fandom at its finest. But oddly enough, we actually had a fair amountof people come to see the show who had never watched an episode of Game of Thrones. Many told us that our musical has inspired them to begin binging the show on HBO.
What is the music like? It was a rock opera. Is it still in that style or does it have new and varied music?
PARKER: The score is all rock (with a little pop added in)! We always update songs to reflect what's happening on HBO, but we always stay true to our rock 'n' roll roots.
I understand Lost is up after SHAME. You should also consider doing something with Bates Motel. It would make a very ghoulish rock opera. Did you see that with Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore? They made it great, very watchable and entertaining.
PARKER: Hmm, I can totally see that. It's funny you should mention it. Myself and the other creators of Shame of Thrones actually made a Bates Motel parody sketch a few years back that went semi-viral. It never occurred to us to turn that into a full blown musical. Maybe we should have a production meeting about that sometime soon.
Anything else you care to add?
PARKER: We're thrilled to be back where it all began in Los Angeles to celebrate the final season of our favorite TV show. And just in case any GoT alumni are reading - we have a standing rule that present and former cast members of Game of Thrones can stand in for a scene as their character in our musical. That's a promise. And aproducer always pays their debts.
Artistic director Bryan Rasmussen had this to say about the new Monday night project:
"I'm excited about our new musical theater company onMonday nights which is a new venture to bring more musical plays to our already jampacked schedule. Musical theater is a very well-loved institution and they're very expensive to produce nowadays and less and less are being developed. So we wanted to create a situation that might help that. I'm working with Steven Parker on a couple of projects and his show "Shame of Thrones: The Musical" the Game of Thrones musical seemed perfect timing for us to begin the process with that production. "Lost:The Musical" is another example of the kind of work we want to do here because we live in Los Angeles so we have a huge film and television community that we wanted to reflect with some of our offerings. So the fact that Steven had "Lost: The Musical" up and ready to go just seems like a no brainer. I'm very excited about the prospect of having musicals on Mondays that if they are successful we can then move to other nights of our schedule."