Chicago Theatre Review
Just a Stones Throne from Brilliant
THRONES! A Musical Parody – Apollo Theater Chicago
A casual afternoon vibe of like-minded nerds recently assembled at the Apollo Theater to relish another send up of the uber-popular HBO series “Game of Thrones”. Some came with wine, some came with multiple beers in hand, but all came to laugh together and rally around the characters they knew. And how might this parody stack up to other online and improve send ups?
During the next several hours, I could not help but laugh, be slightly embarrassed, but be wholly delighted by the dedication and sheer joy of this musical parody.
If you don’t know what “Game of Thrones” is, please stop reading now. The importance of such a parody or production based on a television series; based on a book will be completely be lost on you. (Just kidding) It’s okay though, HBO is always looking for new subscribers or ask a friend about HBO GO. (no really, you should do this anyway) You will have a great time despite a GOT pedigree.
I first happened upon “Game of Thrones”. (The real title of the series is “A Song of Fire and Ice”) when my paramour Mr. Simon suggested I take up these dense and amazing books. I began my journey then, but let me tell you there are A LOT of characters in the books. There is a lot of blood and mud. Oh, and snow and blood. Did I mention blood?
For this parody, a group of friends get together to watch “Game of Thrones”. There is, of course, the husband who has never seen Game of Thrones. The friends proceed in telling the tales of the “Games of Thrones” right in their living room. The use of household objects as props and costumes is amazing. It is a whirling cyclone of wigs, blankets, car mats, and cooking utensil weapons that the cast handles with ease. The story telling of the “Game of Thrones” characters and actions are woven within a husband reality check back to the living room. I liked this back and forth, it was needed sometimes for audience breathing and probably some cast breathing as well. There is a lot of stabbing and and “thumbs up” to the cast they are NOT afraid to tackle the sexual nature of the characters.
This cast of “THRONES” has accomplished a mind blowing pastiche of the Game of Throne books and series. They cover all the characters, but lovingly stopping on the ones that need our attention for parody, like Jon Snow’s “For the Watch” and love notes for Hodor in “Hold the Door”. Both these numbers are different in tone, but are staged and executed for maximum nerd applause and tears.
There are far too many characters to cover in a short two hour journey. But the cast does a superb job of recreating so many episodes, characters and settings. Mostly all are done very cleverly. The song “These Are All the Names” is a modern major general recap of the many involved.
I enjoyed the cast as an ensemble. The musical sound was clear and precise. No one person did all the heavy lifting, although there were stand out characters to be sure.
Caitlyn Cerza as Spencer was a solid character interpreter. Her energy and expertise at her multiple personalities made for a delightful romp. The “Jon Snow” of the group, Christopher Ratliff as Tom (thanks for reading all the books) had the difficult task of fending off the impassioned fans expectations of this beloved character. Christoper did a fine job with Jon, and the naked brilliance of the shamed Cersei. Not only was Beau Nolan’s (as Ross) voice superb, but he nailed the Tyrion so well. From costume to demeanor – perfection. Kelly aka.Victoria Olivier gave some great character realness but especially to her number one, Daenerys. I loved her facial expressions and clarity of speech whenever she was on stage. Madeline Lauzon (as Hayden) crushed her roles as Ms. Stark, and the devilishly evil Joffrey. Madeline moved through each character with precision and ease. Last, but certainly not least, is Nick Druzbnski playing the role of Brad. From the ill mannered spouse who didn’t know anything about GOT, Samwell, to the spot on transformation to a surprise character during one of the final numbers, “Who Needs Fans” (no spoiler alerts here). His comedic timing and mastery were present, while never taking focus from others or the show. I enjoyed Mr. Druzbanski’s many interpretations.
Some outstanding numbers are the pointed “Stabbin” – Oh Red Wedding, how you haunt us all, and “Sansa’s Song”.
The direction of the show is a well executed puzzle by Hannah Todd, with well done choreography by Sawyer Smith. Musical Direction and sound were super strong by Tyler Kivel and Eric Backus. The props, set and costume tri-umphant (Patrick Ham, Amanda Gladu, Thomas O. Mackey III) brought so much to the story telling and did I mention clever? The dragon was simply brilliant. The lighting was able to strike the mood of Westeros to the Wall. (Claire Sangster).
As far as the book and music (Chris Grace, Zach Reino, Al Samuels, Nick Semar, Dan Wessels), I think they fit together well. The music is serves the material well. It is not over complicated, but the ensemble brings a full sound to the score. The book mostly works as the parody moves along. I think second act could be trimmed by a song or two as the convention of the show grows just a tad weary by the end. I also wished they would have brought back the game of thrones “sun” at the end.
As the final strains of “The Ending That We Want” filled the house, (a lovely tribute to fan theories abounding) I had a great time. Those that are even more committed to the series will catch more, but the stories and characters were easily identifiable and fun. You will enjoy this show weather your a super fan or not, with great performances and voices. Winter is, in fact, coming.
By Lazlo Collins
THRONES! The Musical Parody runs through Nov. 13. For tickets go to www.ApolloChicago.com or by calling the box office
Additional information about this and other area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com.