Review: SHAME OF THRONES: The Musical Comically Spoofs the Feuding Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen Families
The popular HBO series Games of Thrones drew in millions of devoted fans during its 8 seasons from 2011-2019. And while it may not have ended the way most fans would have wished, the many inter-related family tales depicted certainly generated tons of chatter on social media thanks to the attention of viewers from the beginning of Season 1, which was based on A Game of Thrones, the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series by the American author George R.R. Martin, first published on August 1, 1996.
Naturally, spoofs of the series began to appear in the media from the moment the show debuted. One of the most popular, titled Shame of Thrones: The (Rock) Musical, debuted February 10th, 2017 in West Hollywood at the then Macha Theatre, where it ran for forty performances to excited audiences and rave reviews. Then the musical headed south to San Diego where it had a completely Sold Out run, and went on to finish off the year with a successful debut on Off-Broadway in NYC.
Now, just in time for the show's final season and controversial ending, the musical spoof SHAME OF THRONES: The Musical has returned to L.A. for an even more hilarious re-imagining of the show's backstabbing siblings, clever imps and dragon mamas, all set to an addictive rock score that'll stick in your head (unless the king orders it off, of course). Presented through July 8 as part of the Whitefire Theatre Musical Mondays, the updated and unrated SHAME OF THRONES: The Musical, directed by Rachel Stein, produced by Steven Christopher Parker, Steven Brandon, Erin Stegeman, and Ace Marrero, is a riotous romp through not only the beginning of the series where all of the major characters were introduced, but also manages to throw in plenty of groan-worthy jabs at every character and situation during its entire run.
Of course, it pays to have watched Game of Thrones in order to grasp all the characters and situations, especially since the cleverly entertaining musical numbers which introduce everyone to the audience contain references only real fans will understand and find incredibly amusing. From the moment the play is introduced by author George R.R. Martin (Benji Kaufman), seated at his desk in front of his Apple laptop, the perfect mood for the outrageous antics about to take place is set, with the beloved characters mostly half-naked in attention-grabbing costumes designed by Lena DeLoache and Rachael Stein presented during the opening ensemble production number "The Story of A Game of Thrones." Thus, you are prepared to watch as fan favorite, daring, dashing, and most despised characters sing and dance through epic plot twists in their pursuit of the coveted Iron Throne.
With video projections constantly changing to evoke the many locations needed, with the opening credits a wonder to behold, we first meet the fur-clad Stark family singing "Hello From Winterfell" and then King Robert's "Be My Hand" featuring handsome Milo Shearer as older brother Ned, Delilah Kujala as the redhaired family matriarch Catelyn, Jeff Bratz as commanding family Patriarch Robb, Allison Lobel as the throne-seeking Sansa, Ariel Barber as the increasingly Goth-like Arya, Zach Kanner as the fur-laden Jon Snow, Stephanie LeHane as Bran, and Christopher Robert Smith as King Robert/Hodor/Samwell.
The next amusing number "The Things I Do For Love" introduces us to the love seekers among the families. Spoofing the first season which introduced us to Sansa seeking to wed Lannister (Stephanie LeHane), the next King so that she could become Queen alongside him on the Iron Throne, the impish Tyrion (Brad Berube) who constantly reminds us of his many awards as an actor by reaching for a statuette from the wings while reminding us he is so popular on the show that "You Can't Kill Me," and the incestuous twin/lovers Cersei and Jaime Lannister, perhaps the most humorous and sensuous duo among the cast, exemplified during "The Mad Queen (Cersei's Lament)" performed with her "boys." Their laugh-inducing costumes (Nasty Woman and Jaime Fu*king Lannister) certainly fit their attitudes!
Another set of lovers, although more earthy but less promiscuous at first, includes the blonde goddess Daenerys Targaryen (Mandie Hittleman) who begins as a virgin forced by her brother to marry Khal Drogo (Ace Marrero, who I joyfully got to growl at when his muscular, half-naked body sat next to me in the center audience aisle), the most nasty of the Dothraki. I especially enjoyed their "Dothraki Love Song" (subtitled "50 Shades of Dothraki") which takes us through his death bonfire resulting in her birth as the Mother of Dragons. Yes, she appears wearing three of them - and not much else!
After the Starks and Lannisters open Act 2 celebrating their testosterone-filled minds with "All Men Must Die," the women retaliate with the loveliest of harmonies in "Stronger" to celebrate how they will eventually rule the world. Certainly this cast of triple-threat performers are each perfectly matched to their role(s)!
Kudos to director Rachael Stein, Steven Christopher Parker (Book & Lyrics/Producer/Tech Director), Steven Brandon (Book & Lyrics/Producer), Jonny Perl (Musical Director), Erin Stegeman (Music Writer/Producer and in the cast as Cersei Lannister), Ace Marrero (Music Producer and in the cast as sexy Khal Drogo), Mandie Hittleman (Choreographer and in the cast as Daenarys Targaryen), Martin Blasick (Music Arrangements and Production), and Peter Fintrup (Music Writer) for their collaboration which has led to one of the most extraordinary entertaining evenings of theatre to hit the stage! No doubt they will continue to tour the show to sold out houses of adoring Game of Thrones fans!
SHAME OF THRONES: The Musical runs through July 8, 2019 on Mondays at 8:00 pm. Tickets run $25 - $33, available at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4188534 Get yours soon as it would truly be a shame, shame, shame for anyone to miss this marvelously entertaining musical parody, full of fun and whimsy, at the Whitefire Theatre, located at 13500 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks 91423. Due to language and nudity, this show is appropriate for ages 18+.
Photo credit: Kacey Spivey and Todd Leykamp