Erin Roche is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Vocal Performance, a strong theater background, and an even stronger desire to showcase the best that Chicago talent has to offer.
Review: THRONES! THE MUSICAL PARODY at Apollo Theater Chicago
By Erin Roche
Let me start this review by saying: I am not a Game of Thrones fanatic. Forgive me Father for I have sinned. How can I love Lord of the Rings and the BBC and Harry Potter and not be obsessed with this show? I know. You were expecting a witty review full of inside jokes and GOT puns! But—spoiler alert—I loved THRONES! THE MUSICAL PARODY. Having only seen 1.5 seasons of GOT, I was nervous that the jokes might go over my head. ATTENTION! This show is hysterical whether or not you watch GAME OF THRONES! To prove this fact to you, I must tell you that I, an acquaintance-but-not-connoisseur of GOT, brought someone who has never seen a full episode and we were both exploding with laughter.
One vital quality that makes this show work so brilliantly for current and (possibly) future fans is its framework. Six friends inside an apartment are geeking out over Game of Thrones, but one hasn’t seen it/can’t be bothered. The remaining five undertake the task of converting him to the fandom by acting out the entire series over the course of 21 original songs such as “Stabbin'”, “Hold the Door”, and “I’m a Bastard, Baby.” Featured rhymes include but are not limited to: “something/stump thing”, “combat/mom-fat” (cue 10-year old breastfeeding scene), and “Khaleesi/Parcheesi.” Items used as swords include but are not limited to: ladle, pool noodle, light saber. Honorable mention: A feather duster stars as Khal Drogo’s ponytail (Cheers to you, Prop Designer Patrick Ham).
This is dream cast directed by Hannah Todd with every member equally strong in voice, stunning harmonies, and comedic timing. I haven’t seen such a unanimously talented ensemble in a long time (but what else do you expect from the creators of BABY WANTS CANDY).
Christopher Ratliff and his boy-next-door looks transform into a meld of Jon Snow and Derek Zoolander every time he dons his curly black wig. His voice is like a booming, dulcet bell—it’s no surprise that he’s played Bobby Strong in the past—and kills (no pun intended) as Jamie Lannister.
Nick Druzbanski plays the friend who has yet to drink the GOT Kool-Aid—or does a secret lie beneath that epic beard? I walked away mega-impressed not only with his charming voice but also with his command of comedic nuance, finding tiny moments that make you howl in your seat.
Can we first address that Madeline Lauzon actually looks just like King Joffrey when she puts on that blonde wig? Uncanny. But whether she’s playing Joffrey, Sansa, Ygritte, (YES, there are a lot of characters. YES, they do a song about it) or Bran… she is seriously a stunner when it comes to making every moment as gut-busting as possible.
Every time she enters as Daenerys Targaryen, Victoria Olivier slays all but her beloved dragons. Her entrances are exponentially hysterical, but I won’t give away all the jokes. *Honorable mention for the dragon made out of an umbrella and curtains.
A recent graduate of Second City’s Music Improv Conservatory, Beau Nolen will have you rolling through all of his characters, but especially through his rendition of Tyrion Lannister. Also! Not only is his “Hodor” moment wrought with dry humor, but his leading of an a capella gospel ballad here is genuinely beautiful.
Please mentally prepare for Caitlyn Cerza’s entire golden performance. Not only is she one of the most powerful singers on the Chicago scene, but she is just So. Damn. Funny. Whether she’s belting upside-down as Cersei Lannister mid-tryst with her brother Jamie, impersonating Donald Trump (Yes, that’s right), or performing in White Walkers boy band (cheeky choreography by Jeff-Award winner, Sawyer Smith), my abdominal muscles are still recovering.
I had a chance to see an earlier run of this production at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but (shocker!) it was sold out. Thank my sun and stars that I got the chance to see this one. The script by Chris Grace, Zach Reino, Al Samuels, and Dan Wessels is unfailingly witty and deliciously irreverent with topics ranging from bad British accents to incest to a George R. R. Martin tirade. With an ending that is a virtual runaway train of GOT fan-fiction chock-full of allusions to Harry Potter, Star Wars, Into the Woods, Princess Bride, and more, this stellar sendup is the hit of the 2016 season. That settles it—I have to see it again. Want to be my date? We can wear braids, drink red wine, and don capes and furs because, after all, winter is coming.
THRONES! THE MUSICAL PARODY runs through November 13 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 6 pm and 9:30pm, and Sundays at 4pm. Tickets ($29-$59) can be purchased at ApolloChicago.com or by calling the box office at 773.935.6100.