Ain’t it a Shame: Shame of Thrones: the Rock Musical
Hello fans and friends, its everyone’s favorite lovable antagonist, Grand Master Zed, back during the long and dark off season and ready as all Seven Hells to tell you about Shame of Thrones: the Musical! As you all know, we had the lovely minds behind this blood soaked soiree on the podcast a few months back, and now that they’re setting up shop in New York City, a stones throw away, I had to check it out and send you guys back a raven to tell you all about it!
As I stepped up the stairs to the Jerry Orbach theater, Hand of the King pin on and about ready to enjoy a night of making fun of my favorite series, I was as hype as honor. But not even my years of watching, rewatching and lore research prepared me for what was in store. After Hodor so graciously held the door for me and I was led to my seat, I sat by myself a bit and listened to the folks around me discussing their fan theories or their favorite moments of the show or books, in some cases. It wasn’t even curtain yet and I was beaming. This series brought this group of people together, and it filled me with more pride than a Lannister has to be a part of it. As I drank and continued to update literally every manner of social media that I was there, I only grew more excited. I braced myself. Laughter was coming.
There’s a bit of audience participation in this show right out the gate which you’re going to need to pay the price of admission to find out. Its worth it alone, I swear, and the opening number hasn’t even begun. What I found in the coming songs was the grandiose, densely written verbiage and plot line of Game of Thrones stripped down to its most basic plot points and in between nothing short of a Shakespearian farce designed to make you do one thing: laugh.
The story begins with the narrator, George R.R. Martin leading you in and a rousing full cast opening number, and from then on, all bets are off. Arya Stark goes through multiple adolescent phases (goth, hippie, etc.) and even has a rap with Jon Snow as her hype man. Clad in a beanie and a hoodie, Arya evokes a very 90’s rap vibe and stays such throughout the finale. Jon Snow, like in the first season of the show is wholly ignored and kicked around at every turn, even playing second fiddle to Hodor at a moment or two. In much more colorful language, Jon’s treatment reminds me of the opening song of 1776 “Sit Down, John”. This before he joins the Night’s Watch and finds himself under the thumb of Alliser Thorne who’s sociopolitical views about Westeros seem a biiiiiit similar to our current Commander in Chief. The show is a clever weaving of plot points with jokes and handles even the series’ most shocking moments with humor laced aplomb. Milo Shearer, who plays Ned Stark finds himself as the center of this tale, as the warden of the North finds himself in the presence of his old friend, the hilariously drunk Robert Baratheon, the current king of Westeros. When Ned is asked to be the King’s Hand, the two old friends engage in a jaunty tune aptly titled “Be My Hand.” This royal trip to Winterfell also provides us with our initial conflict, as the wonderfully incestuous elder Lannister twins, Jaime and Cersei, played by Peter Berube and Erin Stegeman respectively, get caught in their roll in the hay under the family tree by Bran Stark and Jaime shows us all “the things he does for love”.
Honestly, I highly recommend an aisle seat if you can score one because, from where I was sitting, I overheard some improv as the actors walked onstage. Being in character before your entrance is something all actors should do, but with a group of thespians this funny, it lead to some very amusing blink and you’ll miss it moments. Whether it was Robert Baratheon drunkenly mumbling “whores and ale” to himself or Cersei being dragged onstage by her drunken hubby and declaring, “One night I had a dream you died and I woke up smiling”, this show made me laugh even throughout its transitions.
After some rolling in the aisles, things really kick off with a song by my personal favorite character, the Imp himself, Tyrion Lannister. Drew Boudreau is explosively whimsical in his portrayal of the diplomatic dwarf and after winning his freedom in a game of rock, paper, scissors, launches into the call and response laden “You Can’t Kill Me”. The song suggests that Tyrion can’t be killed because of Peter Dinklage’s two Emmys and the joke is later reprised during the death of Viserys Targaryen,(played by a man of many hats, Randy Wade Kelley, who portrays both the Targaryen prince, Joffery, and Bran as well as a Stark direwolf here and there.) I remember feeling a physical longing when George R.R. Martin announced it was time for intermission, but it was no time at all till the house lights flashed and I was back in the Red Keep.
The second act’s tunes are just as fun as the first half, but in my humble opinion, are dominated by Westeros’ most downtrodden and simultaneously powerful group: its women. Between the rousing “Stronger” and the Lady Gaga-esque choreography and scantily clad male backup dancers of “The Mad Queen (Cersei’s Lament)” in which Stegeman as Cersei slays more lives than the Sept of Baelor explosion did, to the tender duet of Drogo and Daenerys by way of “Dothraki Love Song”; its safe to say that act two is the ladies’ time to shine. The finale takes us through the end of season one, hilariously titled “Heads Will Roll”, with the author of this tale himself being the man who both passes the sentence and swings the sword to bring the curtain down on one of the most entertaining experiences in recent memory. There was even a kick line. Classic Broadway.
This show does more than poke fun and make puns, (Kings of Theon? Bravo…just…bravo), it takes the series we all know and love and turns it on its head. Whereas in the books and show there’s long, brooding passes of betrayal and violence, murder and rape, peppered with a joke or two to keep us standing; Shame of Thrones does the exact opposite. A salvo of laughs, visual gags and pop culture references is only occasionally interrupted by a beheading or molten gold burning or child crippling in turn creating not only a fantastic parody but also a complete tonal antithesis of the series. Masterfully done. This show certainly makes the audience put its hands (golden or otherwise) together.
The cast, in perhaps one of the most lovely shows of appreciation for their fans I’ve seen, even remained in costume to take pictures on the Iron Throne in the lobby for those who wanted them. You know your boy got in line and got his shot. True to form, a few of them even stayed behind for a post show interview, which I have transcribed below, and wish to thank them for once again. You can catch Shame of Thrones: an Unauthorized Musical Parody through December 30th at The Theater Center, 1627 Broadway, in one of the greatest cities to be one beer-scented ride on the LIRR from in the world, New York, New York!
“So I’ve just seen the amazing, fantastic, incredible Game of Thrones the Musical. There was all manner of murder and sex and incest to be had but right now I have some questions for the cast so we’re gonna go around and see who we’re talking to today!”
AM: “Hello, I’m Ace Marrero and I play Kahl Drogo.”
DK: “I’m Delilah Kujala, I play Catelyn Stark.”
MH: “I’m Mandie Hittleman and I play the Mother of Dragons.”
I loudly proclaimed “Boo!” to show my distaste for Daenerys, not Mandie Hittleman, I want to make that perfectly clear. Thanks for being such a good sport Mandie!
AL: “I’m Allison Lobel and I play Sansa Stark.”
ES: “I’m Erin Stegeman and I play Cersei and I’m one of the music writers.”
JB: “I”m Jeff Bratz, I play Robb Stark.”
RWK: “I’m Randy Wade Kelley and I play Bran Stark, Viserys Targaryen, Joffrey Baratheon, Ghost and Summer.”
MS: “I’m Milo Shearer and I play Ned.”
So first of all, fantastic job, to everyone involved. It was brilliant and a lot of fun. Especially for those who may not be too terribly familiar with the series, the music and atmosphere makes it fun for everyone. I have to ask, how are you enjoying NYC? I know Erin, you’ve lived here before, Ace is a local guy from New Jersey, but have any of you worked/acted/lived here before? Have the promo shoots in Central Park been fun? Any crazy subway stories?
AL: “I’d get weird looks, and later the girl who plays Arya (Meghan Modrovsky @mmmodrovsky) told me its because I was wearing a lot of makeup and they probably thought I was a streetwalker. Apparently people in New York only wear makeup if they’re a prostitute.”
MH: “I used to live here before I lived here for two years, eight years ago. It was not great, like my apartment caught on fire, I had to move apartments…”
That’s probably because of all the dragons?
MH: “Right. So weird, I know. So yeah, being back here is much better this time around. We haven’t done a lot of stuff in New York yet, but we’re looking forward to it!”
ES: “I was just gonna say something kinda about the last show I did in New York when I lived here was with Ryan Pifher who plays Robert Baratheon and we played husband and wife and my first show back in New York is also with Ryan who also plays my husband.”
DK: “I’m born and raised in Los Angeles, so coming to New York and having to deal with people and their craziness has been a little intimidating. Not having my car, I feel kinda like naked and vulnerable and exposed, I kinda like it in a small way. But its been surreal considering I’ve only ever been to New York once before with my show choir like 12 years ago.”
So this is definitely a new experience for you?
DK: “Yeah, its insane.”
AM: “Its been very fun for me watching everyone react. Like Stephen Christopher Parker who directed the show and who you had on the podcast (episode 187!) is one of the most paranoid dudes I know, he freaked out a few members of the cast who are staying in Brooklyn, by saying “You guys are gonna get murdered!” But its been fine. Its been funny watching and seeing how the audience reacts for sure.”
JB: “When we first got to New York, I was hauling a bunch of costumes in a rollie bag, and I had my backpack on and all this stuff. We got off the train and got on the 1 at 180th or 181st and it has that elevator that goes up. And we were crammed in there and I had all this stuff and had so much shit on me that I couldn’t like turn around so I was just facing everybody in the elevator. And we got in there and I’m just like, “Oh sorry, sorry, sorry!” and squeezed in there, then the door closed behind me and this teeny tiny woman next to me is just like, “You’re saying you’re sorry but you’re standing on my foot!”
When I posed this question, that’s exactly what I was hoping for. So congrats on the extension of the run, well deserved. What prompted the name change? As we now know Game of Thrones: the Rock Musical is now Shame of Thrones: the Rock Musical.
ES: “Once the extension starts we go to Shame of Thrones, but that was a lovely call from HBO, saying, “If you extend, please change the name. We don’t want Game of Thrones in your title anymore.” So yeah, hence the name change. There were a lot of different options. We wanted to make sure someone who sees the title can automatically understand this is Game of Thrones. There was “Thrones” we could have done, or “Winter is Coming” but our main priority was making sure people could understand.
Erin since I have you, is anything else up to be changed other than the name? Anything else on the chopping block to be changed up now that the run is extended?
ES: “Yeah, a couple, We’re trimming it down to make the running time just a tiny bit tighter. There’s a couple of crowd warming up things we’re doing for people, kind of like a pre-show as people come in. We are doing a couple later shows, as we did something similar during the Comic Con run, like a midnight show. And it was a little bit more….uh…naughty. So we’re gonna do kinda like a late night show on Friday and Saturday nights at 10:30. We’re still workshopping a lot of these ideas too, so, I don’t have a full answer for you just yet.”
Well, being that you guys now run through December 30th, its gonna be Christmas time, so are there any Christmas kinda alterations that might occur in the land of Westeros? Anyone perhaps looking forward to a Red Christmas in New York City, for those that haven’t been here before? Maybe go to the Time’s Square tree?
ES: “I would love to see our whole cast ice skating in Central Park.”
AL: “In costume?”
The whole cast simultaneously agrees that it would be in costume.
DK: “I mean like my version of what I think New York Christmas is comes from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York which I watched endlessly.”
So you’re gonna get directions from Donald Trump?
DK: “Exactly! In the Plaza Hotel.”
MS: “In the month, or not even a month that I’ve been here, I’ve lost 15 pounds. So I’m looking at the holiday season to let me bring that back in spades. I think I’m gonna gain 30 pounds just on latkes.”
Assuming that all of your are big fans of musicals and rock operas, Erin you’ve done Once Upon A Time: the Rock Opera, so, is there a song from any particular musical past or present that you can see your character singing? I have some examples to perhaps get you started. Perhaps Cersei singing “You’ll be Back” from Hamilton? “I’ll send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love” kinda reminds me of her. Perhaps Drogo singing “War is a Science” from Pippin? And of course, Jorah Mormont singing “On My Own” from Les Mis. Anyone got an answer for me?
AL: “I can see Sansa singing “Popular” from Wicked to Arya to teach her how to be a lady.”
AM: “We actually recorded a song who Allison wrote, its a parody of Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go” called “That’s My Throne” which has Daenerys singing.” (I disagree.)
MS: “Now that you mentioned it, I am getting a bit emotional at the idea of Ned singing “Hurricane” from Hamilton, so I think I’m gonna go cry.”
ES: “We actually have a video of Arya, Sansa, and Bran singing the “Stark Sisters” aka the “Schyluer Sisters” from Hamilton.”
RWK: “And Bran.”
Mother of Dragons, what are your thoughts?
MH: “I dunno, something with fire perhaps?”
MS: “Into the Fire” from the Scarlet Pimpernel? ”
AL: “Walk through the Fire” from Buffy the Musical?”
MH: “Oh my god! Yes! Buffy!”
Thank you guys for taking the time, but my final question is what’s up next? What do you guys have coming up? I know I’m perfectly comfortable with you guys making one of these for all 5 books, personally, but, I’m gonna give you this time to plug away any upcoming projects, anything you guys have going on. Obviously the run is going on December 30th and everyone should go see it, its an absolutely rip roaring, amazing, incestual, violent time and I had a blast.
JB: “I’m actually not extending, I’m going back to LA to do “The Last Five Years”. (Catch Jeff in the Last Five Years, Nov. 11th, 17th and 18th at 8pm and Nov. 12th at 7pm at Sacred Fools at the Broadwater, 1076 Lillian Way in LA! Tickets: lastfive.brownpapertickets.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org)
AL: “I just wrote my first feature film called Murder Spa, so we’ll see where that goes next, its a slasher comedy.” (Keep up with what Allison is doing at AllisonLobel.com!)
I thanked the cast for their time and slipped in a Valar Morghulis for good measure. Follow the cast on Twitter!
Ace Marrero- @NotoriACE
Erin “Queenie” Stegeman- @erinstegeman
Mandie Hittleman- @mandieinyoface
Randy Wade Kelly- @randsomnotes
Delilah Kujalah- @dkujala
Allison Lobel- @AllisonLobel
Milo Shearer- @miloinmotion
And the Facebook page for Jeff Bratz’s Last Five Years can be found here:
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Posted on November 10, 2017, in Comedy, Music, Reviews, Tales from Westeros, Uncategorized and tagged comedy, Game of Thrones, musical, Shame of Thrones, Tales from Westeros, Theater. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.