If you’re looking for a silly parody summary of the first season of the HBO series “Game of Thrones”, this is the show for you.
Game of Thrones: The Musical promises to give us things to laugh about about the blood bath of modern TV, “Game of Thrones”. There are definitely some laughs, but this is no Tyrion Lannister speech. Performed at the Macha Theater in West Hollywood, the show has two casts: the Lannisters, and the group I saw Saturday at 8pm, the Targaryans. The performers were mostly solid, with only a few rough spots. The songs are serviceable, with the standout being “Stronger,” where all of the female characters sing together about just how strong they are. It was actually quite moving, the only such song in the show.
The rest of the show never really grabbed me. There are some decent running jokes, a couple of other “one too many” dips into the same well, and an abundance of blue material. To be fair, there’s a lot of blue material in Game of Thrones, so it’s to be expected. There are also a few spoilers, and a decent amount of throwaway Hodor. Although if you’re interested in seeing this show, it’s unlikely you haven’t seen the first season of “Game of Thrones”.
Of the cast, the strongest performances came from Chuck McLane, who played Hodor as well as a bunch of other characters; and Erin Stegeman as Cersei Lannister. Notable singing moments came from Katie Hotchkiss, Andrea Rutherford, and Milo Shearer. The other singers were decent, but weren’t served by the rest of the production.
It’s a challenge to stage a musical on a budget. This musical required costumes and of course musical composition and lyrics. And points to the production for not leaning too heavily on the TV series’ musical themes, the main theme only appears a few times, once towards the beginning, and then during some of the scene changes. Unfortunately, this production didn’t budget for a live band, and I think it hurt the show.
There was nothing wrong with the pre-recorded tracks, but they were very quiet and lacked punch. The performers were often very quiet as well. Modern shows with big budgets solve this with amplification, which may or may not have worked in this venue. Old school shows would cast performers able to really belt out the songs without needing amplification. I suspect that while there may have been issues with one or two of the performers, this is actually the fault of the director and the producers. Almost all of the performers had moments when they demonstrated the ability to really belt out a song perfectly. Instead, during most of the show, it seemed they were directed to hold back, and I’m betting it’s because if they’d gone full force, they would have overwhelmed the pre-recorded track. To solve that, you increase the volume of the track, which then may have presented some other problem. It may also have been because the performers couldn’t hear the track very well. This often leads to tentative singing.
Whatever the case, this show demands being broad and big. The writing is broad and big, and so everyone on stage has to be having fun at 11. With the music the way it was, everyone was mostly at a 7, and that just doesn’t give the audience the energy from stage necessary to really get into the comedy.
Even if they did get the sound balance right, though, this isn’t cutting, clever comedy. The best comparison would be a fourth–wall–breaking version of the plays about the royal class seen in later seasons of Game of Thrones. It tells the story, adds some references to the meta world of TV production, and generally makes some serviceable jokes along the way.
This show had a lot of potential and a lot to work with. It managed to deliver a reasonable result.
Game of Thrones: The Musical
Macha Theater in West Hollywood, Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays through April 16
Tenth Avenue Arts Center in San Diego, July 20-22 (Comic Con)
7 out of 10 dragons, or…
Eliot has been orbiting show business for over 20 years as an improv comedian, video director, and general guy you might barely recognize. Currently best known for his work on the comedy podcast Never Not Funny: The Jimmy Pardo Podcast. He wrote previously for MacEdition.com, and is working on a collection of short sci-fi and weird tales that will probably be published someday. He is also one of three principals in Modest Games.